Trees

From our backyards to our parks, trees are hard at work providing the necessities of life. Trees clean our air and water, provide habitat for wildlife, beautify and connect our community, and improve our wellbeing. All the trees in the community make up the City’s urban forest.

Over 55% of the City’ urban forest is located on private property. This includes trees in the landscape of a strata complex, the yard of a single-family home, the parking lot of a store, and at the margin of a railway or industrial facility. Trees on private land are managed by the owner.

Owners are encouraged to join the City in growing the urban forest by preserving and planting trees on their property.

Removing Trees on Your Property

Trees on private property in the City may only be cut down under specific conditions. See the requirements below based on your property type.

Single-Family and Duplex Residential Properties 

  • Single-family and duplex residential properties (RS-1, RS-2, RS- 4B, RT-1, RT-2) aren't required to get a tree removal permit unless your property is in a streamside area. Check your property’s zoning on CityMap
  • If your property is in a streamside area, you must apply for a Streamside Development Permit before removing any trees or landscaping. If you're unsure, contact planning@cnv.org
  • We recommend that only tree care professionals undertake any tree work on your property. Tree care professionals include an ISA Certified Arborist or ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor. 
  • If the trunk of the tree is located partially outside your property limit, you must obtain written permission from the neighbouring property owner before cutting the tree. This includes trees partially located on City property. 
  • Any tree removal must comply with federal and provincial legislation for the protection and preservation of birds, their nests, and eggs. Learn more below under Tree Removal and Birds

All Other Properties 

Other properties include multi-family residential, commercial, civic, industrial, and mixed employment areas. 

  • Any tree removal on your property must comply with the City’s Tree Bylaw No. 8888
  • A Tree Removal Permit is required for any tree that's 20 cm or more in diameter at breast height (watch video of how to measure diameter). 
  • Trees 20 cm or more in diameter may only be cut down under specific conditions. Refer to Section 6 of the City’s Tree Bylaw No. 8888 for a list of these conditions. 
  • If the trunk of the tree is located partially outside your property limit, you must obtain written permission from the neighbouring property owner before cutting the tree. This includes trees partially located on City property. 
  • Any tree removal must comply with federal and provincial legislation for the protection and preservation of birds, their nests, and eggs. Learn more below under Tree Removal and Birds.

How to Obtain a Tree Removal Permit

A Tree Removal Permit must be issued before any tree removal work begins. 

Steps required for a Tree Removal Permit:

  1. Prepare your documents. Refer to the Tree Removal Permit Application for more information on the requirements of each of these documents:
    • Arborist Report, completed by an ISA Certified Arborist
    • Tree Protection Plan
    • Tree Replacement Plan
    • Site Plan or Survey
    • Property Owner(s) Authorization (if relevant)
    • Shared Tree Authorization (if relevant)
    • Proof of Certification or Accreditation of company undertaking work
  1. Submit a Tree Removal Permit Application.
  2. Pay the required fees.
  3. After receiving a Tree Removal Permit, work may begin in accordance with the conditions on the permit. 

If you're planning to develop your property or are in active development, please refer to the City’s Land Use Approvals webpage for more information on the process, including tree removals.   

Hazardous Tree Removal

If you’re a property owner and need to imminently remove a hazardous tree, follow these steps.

  1. If a tree poses an imminent risk to life or property, it may be cut without a Tree Removal Permit.
  2. Within 24 hours of cutting the tree, you must submit evidence to confirm that that tree was imminently hazardous. This may include photos of the tree prior to cutting and/or written confirmation by an ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor.
  3. Wait to remove the felled tree from your property until City staff confirm receipt of the required evidence.
  4. Pay the Tree Removal Permit fees, including security deposit for the required replacement tree (to be refunded upon confirmation of planting).
  5. Remove the felled tree only after a retroactive Tree Removal Permit has been issued.

Tree Removal and Birds

If your project requires the removal of, or disturbance near, vegetation including trees, it's important to understand your obligations under provincial and federal legislation regarding breeding birds. 

In BC, birds, their nests, and eggs are protected by both the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and the provincial Wildlife Act. Some species of birds are also protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.

The most active bird nesting season is from approximately March 1 until August 31 every year. We recommend that you plan for any tree removals outside of the active bird nesting season. It is illegal to damage, disturb, destroy or remove an active bird nest. If you're planning to remove a tree during bird nesting season, you'll be required to provide a bird survey by a Qualified Environmental Professional as part of the Tree Removal Permit application.

Nests of some species, including bald eagle, peregrine falcon, osprey, and heron, are protected year-round, whether currently active or not. A full list of species that are protected year round can be found in Schedule 1 of the Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022

Before undertaking any tree work on your property, whether during nesting season or not, the City recommends that you work with a Qualified Environmental Professional to confirm if there is any nesting on your site. It's the responsibility of the property owner to be in compliance of all federal and provincial regulations.

Environment Climate Change Canada provides guidance on avoiding harm to migratory birds. Questions about federal legislation can be directed to Enviroinfo at Enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca.


Report Violations

To report any violations against the Federal Migratory Bird Convention Act please call 1-800-668-6767 or email Enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca.

To report any violations against the Provincial Wildlife Act please call the Conservation Officer 24-Hour Hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

Neighbours and Trees

If you have an issue with your neighbour's trees, your first step is to speak with them. The City doesn't mediate disputes between neighbours. 

The City doesn't do tree removals or pruning on private property. Property owners need to hire a tree care professional if they need help with tree work or want to assess the health of a tree on their property.

If the trunk of the tree is located partially outside your property limit, you must obtain written permission from the neighbouring property owner before cutting the tree. This includes trees partially located on City property. For more information about trees on City property, email Eng@cnv.org.

You may trim back roots and branches of a tree to your property line, as long as it doesn't have a damaging effect on the long-term health or stability of the tree. The City recommends that only tree care professionals undertake any tree work on your property, and that tree work take place outside the bird nesting season as noted above in Tree Removal and Birds


Contact Us

Questions about Tree Removal Permits? Email TreeBylaw@cnv.org.

Questions about trees on City property? Email Eng@cnv.org.

trees with backdrop of downtown
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