Courts fine Ancaster property owner $420K for illegal clear-cutting
Councillor says some of the trees were over 75-years-old
An Ancaster real estate agent and property owner has been slapped with a $420,000 fine for the illegal clear-cutting of trees four years ago.
According to a news release from the city, James McNiven was charged for chopping down trees in a woodlot at McNiven and Golf Links Roads, near the Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster.
A judge found McNiven had violated a city bylaw that prohibits heritage trees larger than 45 cm in diameter from being cut without a permit.
The city said that McNiven was fined $6,000 per count on 56 counts of cutting trees without a permit in provincial court earlier this week.
A "victim surcharge" fee of $84,000 was also added, the news release reads. He was given two years to pay the fine and two years of probation.
"I am pleased that we have taken a strong stand against indiscriminate and illegal tree removal. The tree canopy is a critical part of Ancaster's character," said Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, in a statement.
"Many of the trees that were cut down were more than 75 years old. The dozens and dozens of trees on this 25-acre lot are irreplaceable. This has got to stop and we are sending a clear message to any rogue developers that we will take severe action for anyone who removes trees without appropriate approval."