THE District of West Vancouver is investigating after a strata group in British Properties cut down a swath of trees that was protected by a covenant.
Approximately 15 trees were felled on the privately owned land bordering McDonald Creek Park, just off the Westhill Close cul-de-sac, on Aug. 15.
Neighbours, annoyed at the loss of nearby trees and worried about the environmental impact, alerted the district.
"We do know for certain that tree cutting has occurred in what's called a covenant area," said Geri Boyle, acting director of planning for the district. "It is privately owned land, but it is protected by a covenant that prohibits the cutting down of trees or altering the vegetation without the prior written consent of the district."
The district is now working with the Westhill Villas strata group to make sure the area is repaired. Under the terms of the covenant, the strata must pay for a remediation plan, have it approved by district staff and carry out necessary work.
"They need to bring in consultants to examine it both from an environmental perspective and from a slope-stability perspective. Obviously, it changes the quality of that whole riparian area, and that is of concern for us," Boyle said.
There is also some question as to whether any of the trees were within McDonald Creek Park, which would carry a totally difference set of consequences for the group.
"It's pretty hard to know in the field, without it being surveyed, where the lot lines are," Boyle said.
That too will come at the cost of the strata. While there is often temptation to chop down or limb trees to improve viewscapes on the North Shore, it is not common for the district to get complaints about illegal cutting, Boyle said.
"We often have questions about cutting trees, but people taking it into their own hands isn't something we deal with every month," she said.
In February, North Vancouver RCMP started a criminal investigation after 35 mature trees were brought down in Capilano River Regional Park. Police have forwarded the file to Crown counsel and are waiting to hear if the charges will be approved.