The issue prompted discussion during the February 2 council session about whether or not Alfred-Plantagenet Township has any bylaws or regulations that deal with tree-cutting within the municipality.
“We don’t have any specifications to say where you can cut and where you can’t cut,” said Mayor Stéphane Sarrzin during a later phone interview. “It is a real complicated matter.”
During the council session, the mayor read out a letter from Patrick Brière, a local resident, who expressed concern about a large clearcut on a Pitchoff Road property. Mayor Sarrazin noted that he has had calls from other residents about the matter.
The mayor noted later that the clearcut was part of 250-acre property owned by a commercial farming company. Annie Rochfort, township clerk, told council that the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) planning and forestry department deals with all forestry-related matters within the region. The township has a bylaw that deals with nuisance tree cutting but not one that concerns large-scale logging within municipal bounds.
Councillor Ian Walker chairs council’s advisory committee on environmental issues. The committee was reviewing the existing local regulations on tree-cutting and getting legal advice on possible revisions.
“We will come to council with an updated version of the bylaw,” said Walker, adding that the revised bylaw should be ready by either late spring or early summer for council to review and approve.
Councillor Suzanne Lafrance expressed concern how a treecutting bylaw could affect local farming operations for clearing new fields for planting or for pasturage. Councillor René Beaulne suggested council should hold a public information meeting to get feedback from local farmers and other residents about a revised treecutting bylaw.
“We definitely will need more feedback from our community members,” said Councillor Walker.