Tree Bylaw background information
With the rapid pace of development and re-development, trees were being removed at a fast pace, without the balanced consideration necessary to maintain the District’s natural asset of the urban forest. As an interim measure, the District adopted an interim bylaw to protect trees on private land in July 2016, to allow more time to develop a thoughtful and balanced approach to tree management.
In 2016, staff undertook a public engagement process to help understand the impacts of tree cutting on neighbourhoods, the impacts that the interim measures have had, and helped explore ways to possibly adjust the bylaw for tree management over the longer term.
More than 1,000 people responded to the survey. The issue is a polarizing subject and staff learned about the many varied perspectives during the 2016 consultation. Key findings were:
- When asked if there should be a change in current regulation of protecting any tree species that is 75 cm (29 ½ in.) diameter and larger, measured 1.4 metres (4 ft. 7 in.) from the ground, an almost equal number of respondents said yes and no.
- When asked if there should be additional measures to regulate the number and location of trees on a lot that can be cut or removed at one time, 64% of respondents said yes.
The District appointed a 12-member citizen’s group in spring 2017 to review options, engage the community, and make recommendations regarding the development of a bylaw to regulate trees on private property that balances tree management best practices with community interests.
The Interim Tree Bylaw Working Group Report to Council details the working group's background research and discussions, the public engagement process and the final recommendations related to private tree management in West Vancouver.
The working group's draft recommendations are featured in Appendix A of this report:
A period of public review (March to April 2018) followed presentation of the draft recommendations to Council providing the community with an opportunity to provide further feedback on the working group’s proposed recommendations. The working group hosted four education sessions and accepted comments online. The results are discussed in the working group’s final report.
In the staff report considered at the May 27, 2019, Council meeting, staff provided Council with the Interim Tree Bylaw Working Group’s final recommendations report, staff analysis of the working group’s recommendations and amendments to the Interim Tree Bylaw.
At the May 27, 2019, meeting, Council directed staff to:
- use LiDAR data to establish a tree canopy baseline and prepare an Urban Forest Management Plan;
- report back to Council regarding the efficacy of the Interim Tree Bylaw in maintaining tree canopy cover and propose policy recommendations for any adjustments to the bylaw as required to maintain canopy cover;
- update the Fees and Charges Bylaw No. 4989, 2018 to add a fee for a tree removal permit for protected trees on private property; and
- prepare educational guidelines for tree protection and management on private property based on Interim Tree Bylaw Working Group recommendations.
An application fee for a tree permit was established on January 1, 2020.
A tree canopy cover study using LiDAR data was completed in April 2020 and presented to Council on September 28, 2020. At the meeting, staff provided Council with the results of the study and recommendations to:
- update the Interim Tree Bylaw based on the results;
- complete an Urban Forest Management Plan; and
- continue to monitor the tree canopy using LiDAR.
On November 2, 2020, the proposed amendments to the Interim Tree Bylaw, based on recommendations from the Interim Tree Bylaw Working Group, resident concerns, and the results of the Tree Canopy Cover Study, were approved by Council.
The management of trees in the District is an ongoing process to ensure that the regulations are adaptive to changes due to climate change, development, or any other events that arise in the future. The Bylaw and other policies related to trees in the District will be reviewed on a regular basis.