Cutting down 25 trees costs B.C. man more than $80,000

Former city council candidate illegally dropped alder and maple in pricey Nanaimo neighbourhood

A Nanaimo businessman has been fined close to $84,000 for illegally downing trees near Departure Bay ferry terminal in summer 2016.

Jim Mercier was initially charged with more than 40 City of Nanaimo municipal bylaw offences which took place between Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2016 on a 22,000-square foot lot on White Eagle Terrace, which Mercier was considering buying at the time and has since bought. Twenty-five of those counts were confirmed, according to Judge Douglas Cowling at provincial court in Nanaimo on Thursday.

Nineteen trees were broad leaf maple trees with trunk diameters between 26-69 centimetres, said Cowling. There were also six red alders with trunks ranging from 27-34 cm in diameter. The lot was in an area with “expensive homes” between a residence and Beach Estates Park, which Cowling said isn’t a developed park. It protects a stream and has a 20-metre slope to the Departure Bay foreshore. It has been designated as a place of archaeological significance due to evidence of First Nation occupation.

Cowling said evidence indicated tree removal was primarily to enhance the view. There were concerns slope stability could be affected by the tree removal.

The cutting of the trees took place at the direction of Mercier by, what the judge gathered, was a person with professional ability.

Cowling fined Mercier to what amounted to $65,000, the property value increase due to the tree cutting, and $750 for each tree for a total of $83,750. Cowling said it was important to look at the totality of the $750 figure as opposed to the per tree figure.

The fine has to be fully paid by Sept. 1, 2020, said Cowling.

Neither Peter Behie, Mercier’s legal counsel, nor Mercier were available for comment after sentencing.

Jarrett Plonka, city legal counsel, was pleased with the ruling and said one of the primary principles of sentencing by Cowling was discouraging profits from the contravention.

“Judge Cowling imposed a $65,000 fine as a starting point and that’s to essentially ensure that Mr. Mercier doesn’t profit and has to pay a fine equivalent to the profit that he’s enjoyed from improving the value of his property,” said Plonka. “The $18,750 … the fine that can’t just account for profit, the fine also has to account for things such as denunciation and deterrence to send a message to the public that trees can’t be cut, breaching the bylaw in contravention of it without regard to the city’s bylaws.”

Plonka suggested the financial figure the court came to was well within what the city proposed as an appropriate fine.

Mercier ran in the 2017 byelection for Nanaimo city council.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

UPDATED: Some states of local emergency suspended by ministerial order

Suspension applies to regional districts but not First Nations

A letter from Bella Coola doctors on COVID-19: ‘All our lives depend on your actions now’

“None of us are invincible; we can all get it and spread it without even knowing.”

COVID-19: Bella Coola RCMP close detachment front door access

The public is being asked to call 250 799 5363 for assistance

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

Most Read