British Columbia

Google camera appears to catch illegal tree-cutting

Three people have been charged with violating Vancouver's tree-cutting bylaw after trees were illegally removed from a property on the city's West Side - in an incident apparently caught on a camera operated by the internet giant, Google.
An image from Google Street View of men working on the property where trees were allegedly cut down illegally. ((Google))

Three people have been charged with violating Vancouver's tree-cutting bylaw after trees were illegally removed from a property on the city's West Side – in an incident apparently caught on a camera operated by the internet giant, Google.

The former owner of the property, her daughter and a tree cutter allegedly removed 23 trees after they were issued a city permit in May 2009 to cut down just two.

The cedar, cypress and evergreen trees were cut down on the same day that a car equipped with a camera recording images for Google's Street View was in the neighbourhood around Southwest Marine Drive and Musqueam Park.

The city of Vancouver's legal department was aware of the Google Street View shots, CBC News was told, but no decision has been made about submitting them as evidence against the people charged.

The city said it only learned about the Google pictures after it had begun to investigate the neighbours' complaints.

Property sold

Former homeowner Margaret Burnyeat, her daughter Elizabeth Burnyeat and Michael Saffronick of Saffronick Tree Care Ltd. have been charged, according to city spokeswoman Theresa Beer.

Some of the stumps on a Vancouver property where owners have been charged with cutting trees illegally. ((CBC))

A new tree-cutting bylaw came into effect Jan. 1. Under the previous bylaw, those found in contravention can be fined between $500 and $20,000 per tree.

The next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 27.

The property at 6060 Olympic St. was sold by the Burnyeats in June 2009 and has since been put up for sale again by new owners with a list price of $1,684,000.