Local developer Paul Bal has been slapped with a hefty fine of $175,000 for felling trees in Newton in August.

Paul Bal for his part says the whole thing has been blown out of proportion by the media, and said if there was damage, it was caused by his subcontractor, JB Demolition.

The city said neither Bal or JB Demolition is accepting blame for the cut, which Surrey General Manager of Planning and Development Jean Lamontagne said went beyond city permits and into protected parkland areas and other private lands.

City staff also said JB Demolition doesn’t have a Surrey business licence, which would be required to do the tree-cutting work.

In August, the city gave permission for Bal to cut down 39 trees on his property at 5904 144 St. to make room for two residential lots. When JB Demolition arrived, those trees were cut down, along with several others in a park.

City staff allege that the heavy equipment was delivered to the west side of the property.

Damage to the creek bed caught the immediate attention of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which launched an investigation.

Don Luymas, Surrey’s manager of community planning, said it’s not clear who was at fault for the cut, but added for the city’s purposes, it doesn’t matter.

The developer, who is in charge of the project, must take ultimate responsibility for his subtrades, Luymas said.

Bal insists the tree cut was not his fault.

He said the media blew the issue out of proportion, adding he will take a huge financial hit for the mistake.

Bal said the remedial work in the park land will run into tens of thousands of dollars.

“It’s going to be costly,” Bal said.

In all, the total bill for Bal will be more than $175,000.

The bulk of that (about $150,000) is a security deposit to ensure restoration work in the park is still viable in three years, and the city says a $25,400 fine is for what it believes were 14 trees protected by Surrey’s bylaw taken down on private properties.

Bal said there were only nine trees that came down without permits.