On-line Survey Report

Document Sample
On-line Survey Report Powered By Docstoc
					Tree Protection on Private
Property in the Town of Oakville




On-line Survey Report




Prepared by:




Revised: December 5, 2007
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                        December 5, 2007




1 Introduction and Methodology

The Town of Oakville is exploring options to help limit the destruction of trees on private property. The
process has been executed with an understanding of the Town’s previous work on this issue and within
the framework of larger, strategic urban forestry issues on public and private property.

In consultation with a focus group of local residents, DPRA and the Town developed an on-line survey to
gauge the opinions of residents on how best to protect trees on private property. The intention of the
survey was to solicit opinions and ideas for discussion at future public consultation events. The results of
the survey do not represent a random sampling of Oakvillians.

A pre-test of the survey was conducted to ensure that any problems with the survey, such as sequencing
or the wording of questions, were identified and corrected. The final product was a survey that was as
“user-friendly” as possible for the respondents. and provided technical support as required.

The survey was official launched during the Waterfront Festival in Oakville on June 22, 2007. Flyers were
handed out to residents who came to the event in an effort to promote and encourage participation. Press
releases, editorials and newspaper advertisements all served to draw attention to the survey.

The survey was available on-line from June 22 to August 15, 2007 at www.oakville.ca. Public internet
access is available at Oakville Public Library branches and at Town Hall kiosks just inside the main
entrance.

A total of 926 surveys were submitted in an eight-week period.

All responses were cleansed for duplicate entries and completeness. The valid survey responses were
entered into a computer statistics program, SPSS, for analysis.

All the information has been kept strictly confidential – the results are presented in aggregate form only
and individual respondents have not been associated with responses.




                                                                                                       Page 1
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                         December 5, 2007




2 Detailed Findings

The following section is a detailed presentation of the aggregated output by survey question. Results are
expressed in total percentages (%). Where possible, comments are provided verbatim as they appeared
in the survey.

All of the additional open-ended comments provided by the respondents for each question are provided in
Appendix 1.

General Questions

1. Do you feel that residents are generally aware of (or informed about) the importance of trees?

Nearly 70% of respondents felt that the residents of Oakville are generally aware of (or informed about)
the importance of trees. Only 30% indicated otherwise. (The total number of responses for this question
was 926).




                                                30.2
                                                                             Yes
                                                              69.8           No




2. Trees offer a number of benefits to the Town of Oakville. What do you believe are the most
   important attributes of trees?

Respondents were asked to identify, in their opinion, the most important attributes of trees. The
respondents could select multiple options from a list provided on the survey. Almost all respondents
stated that trees have ecological benefits and nine in ten indicated shade provision as an important
attribute. Fifty percent selected economic value while 45% thought trees were important for their historic
aspects. Of interest, only three respondents stated that there were no positive benefits to trees.

                        Attributes of Trees                            Percent of Cases (%)    Count (#)
   Ecological benefits (air filtration, hydrological benefits, etc.)           97.3              895
   Shade provision                                                             90.5              833
   Aesthetics                                                                  88.2              811
   Economic value                                                              49.6              456
   Historic aspects                                                            44.6              410
   There are no positive benefits to trees                                      0.3               3
   Other                                                                        6.6               61




                                                                                                       Page 2
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                          December 5, 2007


3. The existing tree canopy (the percentage tree cover of the Town’s land area) is 29%. Do you
   believe that this should be: increased? Decreased? Maintained?

Nearly 60% of respondents believed that the tree canopy should be increased, while 30% stated the
current percentage should be maintained. On the contrary, 0.4% indicated it should be decreased. (The
total number of responses for this question was 926).


                                           0.4

                                                           11.0




                                                    30.0             58.5




                                        Increased    Maintained   Decreased   Other



Eleven percent of respondents did not provide a definite answer, instead they provided textual comments,
which included:

     •    “Increased in areas that currently have few if any trees, i.e. New housing areas North of the
          QEW”
     •    “[Increase] in new subdivisions, in older areas of Oakville it should just be maintained”
     •    “The canopy should be increased, provided the Town has enough resources to maintain the tree
          canopy”
     •    “Maintained or increased where publicly owned. Privately owned trees would be at the discretion
          of the owner.”




                                                                                                          Page 3
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                              December 5, 2007




4. Do you believe that the Town should be providing more education about the following items to
   residents?

Nearly 70% of respondents would like the Town to provide more education on tree maintenance
techniques and over 65% indicated that they want to learn more on planting appropriate native species.
Almost 60% stated more education is needed to promote the benefits of trees. However, about 15% of
respondents believed that the Town should not provide any education on this issue.

                                 Items                                    Percent of Cases (%) Count (#)
   Tree maintenance techniques (watering, pruning, etc.)                          68.2           627
   Appropriate native species to plant                                            65.4           601
   The benefits of trees (hydrology, air quality, chemical
                                                                                     59.7               549
   absorption, etc.)
   Tree planting techniques                                                          49.2               452
   The Town’s urban forest                                                           43.9               403
   No, the Town should not provide any education                                     14.6               134
   Other                                                                              9.5                87

Some of the “other” responses included ideas for education on the following topics:

     •    Planting techniques
     •    Promotion of incentives for tree planting
     •    A focus on youth and education in schools
The majority of comments on this question were along the theme that “the above information can be
gathered from many other sources” including nurseries, and that “my tax dollars can be better spent on
more worthy causes.”

4a. If yes, what do you feel is the best way to inform residents?

Sixty-six percent of respondents felt that flyers/brochures is the best way to inform residents when
providing more education on the items in Question 4. Similarly, close to 60% indicated information
posted on Town’s website (59.5%) and advertisements in local papers (57.9%) would be effective
channels for public education.


                      Best Way to Inform                      Percent of Cases (%)          Count (#)
             Flyers/brochures                                         66.0                    530
             Updates on the Town’s website                            59.5                    478
             Advertisements in local papers                           57.9                    465
             Establishing a hotline/help-line                         31.5                    253
             Public meetings                                          22.2                    178
             Town TV                                                  20.8                    167
             Other                                                    11.5                     92




                                                                                                              Page 4
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                       December 5, 2007


Some of the “other” responses included ideas such as:

     •    An available town expert to consult on tree protection issues
     •    A telephone help line
     •    Making information available in schools and local nurseries
     •    “How-to” seminars


5. Do you feel that there should be special rules or regulations to protect certain types of trees?

Respondents were asked if there should be special rules or regulations to protect certain types of trees,
which included:
        • Historic trees;
        • Rare trees;
        • Mature trees; and
        • Multiple trees on one property.

Respondents could select one or more type of trees. The result shows over 33% of respondents felt that
there should be special rules or regulations all type of trees; on the other hand, 25% indicated that no
special rules or regulations should be implemented. Over 26% of respondents thought there should be
special rules to protect rare trees and 22.5% stated that historic trees should require special regulations.

                            Tree Types                        Percent of Cases (%)   Count (#)
             Rare trees                                               26.7             242
             Historic trees                                           22.5             204
             Mature trees                                             18.8             171
             Multiple trees on one property                            5.9              54
             All of the above                                         33.4             303
             None                                                     25.2             229
             Other                                                    14.4             131

Some of the other types of trees that respondents listed were:

     •    Intermediate age trees based on diameter
     •    Only trees on undeveloped land
     •    Only trees on public land
     •    Native trees
     •    Areas designated as woodlots
     •    All trees




                                                                                                      Page 5
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                       December 5, 2007


Tree Removal

6. 57% of Oakville’s trees are located on private property and are not subject to any regulation.
   If the Town was to regulate the removal of trees on private property, which of the following
   exemptions would you support?

More than 83% of respondents would support an exemption for the removal of dead, dying or hazardous
trees. Approximately 40% of respondents supported exemptions on tree removal for building an addition
(45.4%) or a pool (38.6%).

                               Exemptions                        Percent of Cases (%)     Count (#)
         The removal of dead, dying or hazardous trees                   83.3               743
         The removal of trees in order to build an addition              45.4               405
         The removal of a limited number of trees                        44.3               395
         The removal of trees in order to build a pool                   38.6               344
         The removal of an unlimited number of immature trees            26.7               238
         Other                                                           28.7               256

Many respondents expressed concerns about imposing tree removal regulations on private property.
Listed below are a few anecdotal comments provided in Question 6.

     •    “Please leave property makers to make these decisions. It is very expensive to cut down trees
          that is enough deterrent without interfering”
     •    “The Town should not be regulating removal of trees on private property.”
     •    “Do not regulate trees on private property. These were planted and cared for by the property
          owner. The town should let them manage their own property.”
     •    “I would NOT support any regulation by the town on the removal of trees. Once the government
          gets involved it only becomes a source of additional expense WITHOUT additional benefit to the
          homeowner”


7. If the Town was to institute an annual limit on the number of trees to be removed on a private
   property, would you prefer:
Forty percent of respondents would prefer a notification process, while 36.3% preferred a permitting
process.


                                  Process                         Percent of Cases (%)    Count (#)
         A notification process (property owner to notify Town of
                                                                          40.2               338
         tree removal)
         A permitting process (whereby the Town grants permits
                                                                          36.3               305
         to remove trees)
         A neighbour notification process (property owner to
                                                                          31.9               268
         notify adjacent neighbours of tree removal)
         Other                                                            34.5               290




                                                                                                      Page 6
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                           December 5, 2007


Over 34% of respondents indicated “other” as their response; they provided comments to support their
answers, which included:
     •    “Would the town be counting trees on every property? How can it be reasonably enforced?”
     •    “What is the rationale for an annual limit?”
     •    “Voluntary notification won't work. Neighbour notification may only happen after the fact. It is
          none of the Town's business if I need to cut down a couple of trees because the roots are
          damaging weeping tiles or basement foundations. “
     •    “We do not need paid "tree counters" in the town hall. None of the above.”
     •    “The town should not institute a limit on private property.”


8. Would you support the establishment of fines for property owners that remove protected trees
   without notification (and/or a permit)?




                                               43.6            56.4              Yes
                                                                                 No




The total number of responses for this question was 926. More than half of the respondents would
support a fine system for property owners to remove protected trees without notification/permit. Here are
some of comments that supported their responses:
     •    “[T]he removal of the trees from a private property also affects adjacent neighbors
          (environmentally, property value, etc.)”
     •    “Fines for illegal removal would highlight the importance of trees.”
     •    “[U]p to the cost to replace with a tree of similar size elsewhere.”
     •    “A system of fines would help with enforcement of the bylaw.”


On the other hand, 43.6% of respondent were against the idea of a fine system, as they explained below:
     •    “No fines for the town’s residences but yes to fines for the commercial sector. Just look what has
          happened to Richview Golf property- not a tree left!”
     •    “I believe this violates private property rights.”
     •    “See City of Calgary and their "incentive- based" approach to tree protection.”
     •    “Not sure - I don't want to see town spending a lot of time & expense to administer this type of
          thing. There are more important things the town can do, & I feel most residents do like & protect
          trees -- that's why we live in Oakville & not Toronto!”



                                                                                                         Page 7
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                          December 5, 2007




9. If the Town was to implement a mechanism to protect trees on private property, what do you
   believe is the best way to fund the increased administrative costs?
Respondents were asked to identify the best options to fund the increased administrative costs to
implement a tree protection mechanism. Less than 16% supported an increase in municipal taxes. Over
40% of respondents preferred either a penalty (44.7%) or a permit system (42.4%).

         Ways to fund increased administrative costs                  Percent of Cases (%)       Count (#)
 Establishment of penalties for tree removal (user fees)                      44.7                 371
 Establishment of a permit system for tree removal (user fees)                42.4                 352
 Increase in municipal taxes (shared financial burden)                        15.9                 132
 Other                                                                        39.9                 331

Close to 40% of respondents chose “other” as their response. The majority of those who commented on
this question did not support such a mechanism, as their comments indicated below:

     •    “There is no need to have a mechanism to protect trees on PRIVATE property. If I have to take a
          tree down, I have a good reason for it.”
     •    “Don't implement such a mechanism”
     •    “These are all ways for the town to make money. It is a very creative way - but the wrong way.”
     •    “None of the above take it out of your administration budget as it is not needed.”
     •    “I don't feel that there is a sufficient problem to justify implementation of such a mechanism; much
          less one that puts a burden of increased administrative costs on the town. In terms of penalties -
          keeping in mind the supposed goal of this issue - forcing the violator to replant some number of
          trees is the only one that makes sense.”




                                                                                                        Page 8
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                         December 5, 2007


Tree Replacement

10. Some municipalities require property owners to replace trees that they remove. Do you feel it
    would be appropriate for the Town to implement measures to ensure that trees removed on
    private property are replaced?

Close to 47% of respondents felt that trees should be replaced if removed on private property, either on
the property which they are removed or on public property. In addition, some respondents selected
“Other” as their responses and indicated that the trees should be replaced if space is available.



                                                          15.7
                                                                       26.3




                                                      37.5
                                                                        20.5




                                          Yes - on the property from which they are removed
                                          Yes - on public property
                                          No
                                          Other



On the other hand, over 37% of respondents felt that there is no need to replace trees that are removed
on private property. Some respondents provided comments to support their choice of responses:
     •    “Homeowners have good reasons for removing a tree. If it has outgrown the size of the lot, what
          is the point of repeating the mistake.”
     •    “If they are removed for extension or pool where do you expect them to put the new trees”
     •    “If a resident had to pay to remove a large tree because it was dying, dead, or hazardous, I don't
          think it would be fair to force them to bear the cost of a replacement. Would the replacement tree
          have to be the same species, size, ... ??? Just seems over the top. I think discouraging removal
          is the most important step to take. Forcing replacement seems too iron-fisted.”


11. If the Town was to institute a tree replacement policy, what do you feel would encourage
    property owners to replace trees?
Over 48% of respondents felt that by providing more education about trees to the residents would
encourage property owners to replace trees. “Create incentives” was second overall choice to promote
tree replacement. Less than 10% thought that by imposing a financial donation, it would encourage tree
replacement. Interestingly, more than 36% of respondents indicated that regulation would help in the tree
replacement effort.




                                                                                                       Page 9
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                       December 5, 2007




    Ways to encourage property owners to replace trees              Percent of Cases (%)    Count (#)
   General education about trees                                            48.1              414
   Create incentives                                                        46.5              399
   Require replacement by law                                               36.5              314
   Fines for non-replacement                                                31.3              269
   Request a financial donation                                              9.5              82
   Other                                                                    19.8              170


Some of the other suggestions to encourage property owners to replace trees included:
     •    A voluntary donation
     •    Facilitate discounts at local nurseries for replacement trees
     •    Incentives and education
     •    Significant fines
     •    “None of the above –no regulation is necessary”
Other

12. The Town does not have any mechanisms in place to protect trees on private property.
    Overall, what do you believe would be the best way for the Town to protect trees on private
    property?

Over 45% of respondents believed increase education would help the Town to protect trees on private
property. There seems to be two schools of thoughts emerges from this question as close to 40% of
respondents indicated a private tree by-law should be established to protect trees on private property;
while a similar percentage (41%) of respondents stated the contrary (“no action needed”).


             Ways to protect trees on private property        Percent of Cases (%)    Count (#)
            Increase education                                        45.1              410
            No action needed                                          41.0              373
            Establish a private tree by-law                           38.8              348
            Zoning changes                                             8.9               81
            Other                                                      8.8               80


Some of the other ideas listed by respondents to help protect trees on private property included:
     •    Create incentives
     •    Focus on properties over 0.5 ha
     •    Support existing trees and provide advice by subsidizing an aborist
     •    “Leave private property alone”




                                                                                                    Page 10
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                       December 5, 2007


13. Do you have any other comments to share with the Town about the need to protect trees on
    private property?

Over 500 respondents shared their views on the need to protect trees on private property. That
translates to 55% response rate on this particular question. Survey respondents had strong opinions on
this issue and they were eager to share and be heard.

Individual comments provide a great amount of specific detail (and are included in Appendix A). Some of
the prevalent themes are listed below:

     a) Support the establishment of a by-law to protect trees on private property
          •    “I think it is very important that the Town implement a permit process for owners to go
               through if they want to remove a tree. We all share the air.”
          •    “Again, the presence or absence of trees affect many others than just the property owner.
               They really are a community resource.”

     b) Oppose the establishment of a by-law to protect trees on private property
          •    “The Town already addressed this within the last year. People did NOT want a tree by-law”
          •    “Home owners are responsible for their trees, not the gov’t”
          •    “There is no need for the Town to regulate trees on private property. The tree coverage of
               29% was established without the Town's bureaucracy. Lets keep it that way! Just make sure
               that the Town replaces all the trees it removes including parks and woodlots”
          •    “Save our tax money. Trust the residents of Oakville to be good stewards.”

     c) If Town wants to protect trees, it should work to protect the trees on public property – parks and
        woodlots
     d) The focus on tree protection should be aimed at developers in new subdivisions, not private
        property owners

          •    “…The development in north Oakville has decimated mature trees and one sees only vast
               distances of massive treeless development…”
          •    “The worst offenders are property developers who find it expedient to circumvent even their
               own arborist reports about preservation and who ignore recommended protection hoardings
               as per my experience with a neighbour/developer. Arborist recommendations should be
               followed to the letter and not ignored.”
          •    “…The only thing that should be policed is a developer clear-cutting a property.”

     e) The Town should think of alternative ways encourage tree protection – such as education to
        public and in school system and incentive programs (free trees), instead of imposing a by-law for
        residents

          •    “Education and supplying free trees for planning on private property would help increase the
               number of trees in Oakville.”
          •    “… Educate and encourage”
          •    “I prefer the incentive method.”
          •    “…The best way to discourage the removal of trees on private property is through education”

     f)   There are already too many by-laws in Oakville, and they are not being enforced
     g) To avoid fines and potential hassles caused by tree removal, some residents would cut down all
        of their trees before the by-law is even implemented
     h) The Town should be spending money where it is needed (e.g. infrastructure)
     i)   Survey questions are biased in favour of the development of a by-law



                                                                                                    Page 11
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                                          December 5, 2007


Demographic Information

Gender
Of the 926 respondents, 447 or 48.3% were male and 407 or 44% were female.                                        Seventy-two
respondents preferred not to disclose this information.




                                              7.8



                                                                             Male
                                                              48.3           Female

                                    44.0                                     Prefer not to disclose




Age Group
Respondents were asked to indicate their age group. The most numerous age categories were 41-50
and 51-60 years, with 22.5% and 22.2% respectively. The second largest age group was 61-70 with
17.6%.


                                                            Age Group

          25
                                                                      22.5     22.2


          20
                                                                                        17.6

                                                              14.8
          15



          10                                                                                          8.2
                                                                                                                7.9



            5
                                                      2.4
                              1.9
                     1.1                1.4

            0
                Under 18   18-21     22-25          26-30   31-40    41-50   51-60    61-70     71 or        Prefer
                                                                                                over         not to
                                                                                                            disclose




                                                                                                                       Page 12
Tree Protection on Private Property in the Town of Oakville
On-line Survey Report                                                                               December 5, 2007


Household Income
Over 15% of the respondents have a household income over $150,000 and 11% estimated their annual
household income between $75,000 and $99,999. Of interest, 40.4% of respondents did not disclose
their household income.


                                                              Household Income

       45
                                                                                                            40.4
       40


       35


       30


       25


       20
                                                                                                 15.8

       15
                                                                    11.0     10.8
                                                          9.4
       10
                                            5.2                                       5.9

         5                     1.3
                  0.2

         0
             Less than    $10,000 to $25,000 to $50,000 to $75,000 to $100,000 to $125,000 to More than Prefer not
              $10,000      $24,999    $49,999    $74,999    $99,999    $124,999    $149,999   $150,000 to disclose




                                                                                                             Page 13