Call before you cut!
Colwood's urban forest is declining every year, and much of this loss is occurring on private land. The Urban Forest Bylaw was adopted to preserve trees on both private and public property and to assist in growing the City's urban forest. If you wish to cut or remove a tree on your property, you may require a permit. When trees are removed, replacement trees must be planted in order to maintain and enhance the urban forest.
The Tree Management Permit Application Form can be found at the bottom of the page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why protect our urban forest?
Trees improve air and water quality, prevent soil erosion and flooding, offer shade to control temperatures and conserve energy, attract wildlife, birds and pollinators,increase property values and make Colwood neighbourhoods more beautiful and enjoyable. For all of these reasons, trees improve health and wellness and contribute to a high quality of life for residents.
Can the City regulate trees on property I own?
Under Section 8 of the “Community Charter” a Council may enact regulations in relation to trees. Most cities have similar bylaws for the management or the protection of trees. This bylaw brings the City of Colwood up to date with common practice for the protection of trees.
How was the community involved in the creation of this bylaw?
The City created a community-led Urban Forest Bylaw Task Force to review and refine the bylaw between January and April 2018. Find committee membership, agendas and minutes for the Urban Forest Bylaw Task Force.
Trees are coming down in my neighbourhood. How can I check if the City permitted the work?
There is a list on the City of Colwood website showing properties where the owner has contacted the City and tree removal is planned in accordance with the Interim Urban Forest Bylaw. (see Notification of authorized tree removal)
When do I need a permit?
A permit is required to remove or cut any of the protected trees listed on this page. If your property is in a Development Permit Area, your application will be processed differently. Call 250-478-5999 to check if you are in a DP area.
How do I measure the diameter of a tree?
The diameter of a tree is measured at chest height (1.4 metres above the ground). It can be determined by measuring the tree around it's circumference and dividing that by 3.142.)
When is a tree management permit not required?
Permits are not required to remove or cut a tree when:
- A tree does not qualify as a protected tree.
- A tree must be cut in response to an emergency in order to protect public safety or private property (conditions still apply related to replacement of such trees).
- Pruning is performed in accordance with sound arboricultural practices.
- A hedge has five or more trees that are less than 5m in height and 1.25m apart.
- Pruning does not include: lift pruning of lower limbs such that the live crown ratio is less than 50%, removal of more than 25% of the crown in one season, topping, or pruning or removal of a structural root within the critical root zone.
What if the tree is in imminent danger of falling?
In the event that a protected tree is in imminent danger of falling and injuring persons or property due to natural causes, and it is not possible to obtain a permit prior to the tree falling, the owner may cut the tree or have it cut, but must report the cutting of the tree to the City within the next business day along with a photograph of the tree prior to cutting.
The owner must not remove the tree from the lot until the city has attended the site and has confirmed the tree was in imminent danger of falling. In this instance, the trees that are cut must be replaced in accordance with the City's Urban Forest Bylaw. If the City determines that the tree was not in imminent danger of falling, or was in imminent danger of falling due to reasons other than natural causes, the owner may be subject to penalties.
What is a wildlife tree?
Birds, eggs and nest trees are protected by the BC Wildlife Act. When a property owner wishes to remove or modify nest trees, they must obtain a written permit from the Ministry of Environment. More information is available at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/lower-mainland/wildlife/management/wildlife_man...
What will I need to do if I want to remove a tree on my property?
Complete and submit the Tree Management Application Form at the bottom of this page, or pick one up at Colwood City Hall at 3300 Wishart Road. Don't hesitate to contact us at 250-478-5999 if you need more information.
Planting replacement trees
Replacement trees are to be planted on the same lot as the tree removals. If replacement tree cannot be planted, a deposit is required to fund replacement trees elsewhere in the community.
When removing one to five trees, they must be replaced at a 1:1 ratio. When removing more than five trees, they must be replaced at a 2:1 ratio. A security deposit of $250 is required. Security deposits are reimbursed in full with confirmation that the replacement tree has been planted and established (e.g. has survived for at least 1 year). You will be asked to send a photo of the tree to firstname.lastname@example.org when you have planted it, and again 1 year later to confirm it has survived.
Replacement trees must conform to the City of Colwood’s standards with respect to species and size.
How is tree cutting inspected and assessed?
If a contravention of Urban Forest Bylaw occurs in a location where excavation, construction or other development is occurring, a “Stop Work Order” may be placed on the property. This will halt all work associated with the tree cutting or tree damaging activity until the contravention is resolved.
How must trees be protected during construction?
Protected trees within 4m from any excavation, demolition, construction, fill or engineering works need to be protected with a tree protection barrier before the issuance of a building, demolition, or fill permit.
What is the cost of a Tree Permit?
Up to 5 trees: The application fee for a basic Tree Permit is $75, which covers the cost to remove one tree upon approval of the application. The cost for each additional tree (to a maximum of 5) is $25 per tree.
You will also need to provide a tree site plan, and a tree replacement plan.
More than 5 trees: The application fee for a basic Tree Permit is $75, and a $200 payment to remove trees in excess of 5 in a single calendar year.
Security or Cash In Lieu of Replacement: A security deposit of $250 per tree is required; alternatively, these funds can be used to plant replacement trees on public lands should a property owner not wish to plant replacement trees on their property. Security deposits are reimbursed in full with confirmation that the replacement tree has been planted and established (e.g. has survived for at least 1 year). You will be asked to send a photo of the tree to email@example.com when you have planted it, and again 1 year later to confirm it has survived.
In some circumstances, you may be asked to provide additional information. Please contact City staff early in the process to help you identify all the information required.
Application form and full bylaw
Need more information?
- For more information about the urban forest bylaw or tree removal on private property, please contact the City’s Development Services Department (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact City Hall at 250-478-5999.
- If you are concerned about a City owned tree in a park or boulevard, use our online Report an Issue form or call Colwood Public Works at 250-474-4133.
- If you would like to report an unauthorized removal or trees in progress, please contact a Bylaw Enforcement Officer (email@example.com) or use the online Report an Issue form.