City council briefs: Conservation authorities, tree bylaw, staff lauded

City council briefs: Conservation authorities, tree bylaw, staff lauded

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Conservation authority changes cause concern

City council voted unanimously to ask the province to slow down changes to conservation authorities structure, governance and oversight after a motion at Tuesday night’s meeting. London’s statement — which urges the provincial government to “delay enactment” to give more time for consultation — follows in the footsteps of other area municipalities, including Central Elgin and Thames Centre, where councils approved similar motions. The sweeping changes proposed for conservation authorities — tasked with managing flooding, water and soil quality and other watershed issues — are included in the province’s budget implementation bill, with a final vote expected at Queen’s Park on Dec. 10.

Tree bylaw goes to tight vote

In the first of two very narrow votes at Tuesday’s council meeting, politicians opted not to ask staff to prepare a business case for a stricter tree protection bylaw. The proposal, which would have required Londoners to seek a permit from city hall to remove any tree larger than 40 centimetres in diametre — the threshold right now is 50 centimetres — failed on a 7-8 vote. Councillors Mo Salih, Jesse Helmer, Maureen Cassidy, Anna Hopkins, Stephen Turner, Elizabeth Peloza and Arielle Kayabaga wanted to hear back from staff about reducing that threshold, which was expected to cost about $250,000. All others voted against.

Veteran city staff lauded

Council recognized dozens of employees who have dedicated 25 years to London city hall at the start of Tuesday’s meeting. Mayor Ed Holder read out the names of 60 staffers reaching the milestone, though the typical reception was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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