The city of Hamilton is continuing an investigation of an Ancaster businessman who cut down a number of “heritage” trees days before a tougher woodlot cutting bylaw was approved by politicians.
Municipal law enforcement officials visited James McNiven on Aug. 13 to explain to the real estate agent and developer “they were there to investigate the destruction of trees” under Ancaster’s tree-cutting bylaw.
Under the bylaw a person can be fined up to $10,000 for cutting down trees that exceed 18 inches in diameter,” said public works communications officer Ann Lamanes.
She said officials are “continuing to conduct a tally” on all potential violations on the property owner before laying any charges.
Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson said he understood city officials had counted “hundreds” of trees that exceeded under the 18 inches that had been removed from McNiven and Golf Links Road.
“He has clearly violated the Ancaster tree-cutting bylaw,” said Ferguson. “I suspect he was trying to get ahead of the (new bylaw).”
The Ancaster bylaw caps the penalty for a person convicted of felling heritage trees at $10,000. But Hamilton’s new tree-cutting bylaw, approved by councillors Aug. 15, stiffens the penalties to up to $25,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a corporation. Fines can go higher if it can be proven greater financial gain is proven in court.