B.C. company fined $5K for chopping down neighbour's trees | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. company fined $5K for chopping down neighbour's trees

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A B.C. developer that chopped down four 50-year-old spruce trees on a neighbouring property is on the hook for $5,000.

The trees had great sentimental value having been planted by the property owner Agner Olesen and his wife in 1968.

However, in 2019, Prince George developer, Kidd Real Estate Holdings, was clear-cutting an adjacent lot and took the chain saw to four of Olesen's trees.

Olesen then took Kidd Real Estate to the Civil Resolution Tribunal looking for compensation.

According to the June 9 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Olesen presented aerial photos from a municipal website which showed the property line and that the trees were 14 feet from the property line and clearly on his land.

Kidd Real Estate Holdings disputed this and argued the aerial photos were not accurate and that Olesen needed to present a land survey.

The developer said it had obtained a land survey before the logging began which showed the trees on its lot.

However, Kidd Real Estate failed to submit this land survey in evidence which the Tribunal said was a red flag.

The Tribunal ruled that the developer's inability to submit the land survey "without a reasonable explanation" left it to assume that the developer either didn't obtain a survey or that the survey showed the trees were on Olesen's property.

The Tribunal found Kidd Real Estate had trespassed onto Olesen's property and that "mistake" was not a defence to trespass.

Olesen argued the trees served as a windbreak and a natural fence and spending time outside is less pleasant as cold winds now blow over his property. He also says the trees provided homes to birds and insects that benefitted his fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, and berries.

Because the maximum claim at the Civil Resolution Tribunal is $5,000, Olesen argued for this amount, which is substantially less than courts in B.C. have awarded previously.

The decision quotes two other cases where owners received $15,000 and $24,000 when they had trees cut down on their land.

Olesen said it is not possible to transplant established spruce trees and he does not have another 50 years to wait for seedlings to grow.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal quickly agreed to $5,000 compensation.

However, Kidd Real Estate won't have to pay a penny.

The developer separately launched a counterclaim against the contractor, Slew Foot Logging, which did the work.

Unfortunately for Slew Foot Logging it never responded to the counterclaim making them automatically responsible.

The contractor now has 30 days to pay the $5,000, plus $95 interest, and $175 court fees.

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