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Tree Bylaw for private property

On November 2, 2020, the Tree Bylaw (formerly the Interim Tree Bylaw) was adopted. In addition to housekeeping amendments, the following is a summary of the approved changes to the bylaw:

  1. Clarification of the definition of the term “tree cutting” to improve understanding of when a permit is required.
  2. Definitions of acceptable pruning practices that will not compromise the health of the tree.
  3. Addition of Pacific yew, Pacific dogwood, Yellow cedar, and Shore pine tree (greater than 20 cm DBH) to the Protected Tree list.
  4. Addition of trees (greater than 10 cm DBH) within the watercourse protection area (i.e., 15 m of the top of bank of a watercourse) to the Protected Tree list.
  5. Addition of heritage trees, replacement trees, and retained trees to the Protected Tree List.
  6. Restrictions on tree work during the nesting season of wildlife species that are protected under senior levels of government.
  7. Permitting requirements for tree work related to wildfire hazard risk.
  8. Replacement tree requirements for removal of Protected Trees.
  9. Updated permitting process for tree removals when trees are certified as dead by an Arborist, including a reduced arborist report and expedited process.
  10. Updated tree protection barrier requirements during construction activities.
  11. Updated expiry date for a tree removal permit from six months to one year.

The complete Tree Bylaw is provided here:

Tree Bylaw

What is the tree bylaw

It’s a bylaw that regulates the cutting of trees on privately-owned land in the District of West Vancouver.

Which trees are protected under the Bylaw?
  • trees of any species 75 cm in diameter or larger
  • Arbutus, Garry oak, Pacific yew, Pacific dogwood, yellow cedar, and shore pine 20 cm in diameter or larger.
  • trees greater than 10 cm diameter or larger within 15 metres of the top of a watercourse bank, through an Environmental Development Permit
  • heritage trees (as part of the Community Heritage Register)
Does this bylaw mean I cannot cut trees on my property?

You cannot cut a protected tree unless you are redeveloping your property or the tree is deemed hazardous by a professional arborist.

Where you are proposing construction on your property, protected trees outside the permitted building envelope would have to be retained except to allow for necessary driveway access and garage locations.

Other buildings and structures such as swimming pools must be located to avoid protected trees.

If building a house, how do I find out where my property lines and principal building envelope are?

These can be established by a professional surveyor. Contact one of the many companies that provide this service.

What is the principal building envelope?

It's the area on a lot that a house can be built and has been approved under a building permit. It is calculated by applying the required setbacks to a lot as per the Zoning Bylaw.

Requirements may vary due to lot configuration, watercourses on or adjacent to the lot or the presence of covenants, easements, or right-of-ways registered against the property. The Zoning Bylaw must always be consulted for exact interpretation and additional information.

How does the tree bylaw define "cut"?

"Cut" is defined as the complete removal of a tree, or the re-topping of trees that have been previously topped, or the removal of limbs of trees, that requires aerial ascension of a tree and specialized equipment to complete the cutting.

Can I cut a protected tree to improve the view?

Permits will not be granted to cut protected trees simply to improve the view. Much of the clear-cutting problem is caused by property owners creating or improving views. The Tree Bylaw is intended, in part, to address this practice.

What about hedges?

Hedges are not included in the Tree Bylaw. Guidelines for hedge maintenance will be addressed at a later date.

Why doesn’t the Tree Bylaw go further, to protect trees less than 75 cm in diameter?

Taking into account the results of the tree canopy study and for consistency with other North Shore municipalities, staff believe that this protected tree size is a reasonable approach but will continue to evaluate this regulation as more information is obtained.

How do I get a permit? How long does it take and how much does it cost?

With your certified arborist's report, you can apply for a permit through the District Arborist in the Land Development Department:

Email

Staff will process it as quickly as possible. The fee for a permit is $300.

How do I obtain a certified arborist’s report?

You can contact one of the many companies that offer arborist services in the Lower Mainland. A professional arborist is on who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

What is the penalty for cutting a protected tree without a permit?

The maximum fine is $1,000 per offence.

Where does the Tree Bylaw apply?

It applies to all private property in the District of West Vancouver except where a property is subject to an environmental development permit or a heritage alteration permit.

How is it enforced?

As with all District bylaws, Bylaw Services officers will work with staff, residents, and property owners to identify and investigate potential violations of the bylaw. If violations are found, fines will be levied.

Do other municipalities have a bylaw that protects trees on private property?

Yes, almost all municipalities in Metro Vancouver have one.

What are the requirements for tree removals and/or protection during construction of a new house?

The requirements to obtain a permit for tree removals in relation to construction of a new house as well as tree protection requirements during construction can be found at:

Tree Protection and Survey Requirements

WHERE DO YOU MEASURE THE SIZE OF A TREE?

The diameter of the tree is measured 1.4 m above the natural grade and according to this diagram:

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