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.
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 Urban Forest Bylaw Task Force to review and refine the bylaw. Committee membership, agendas and minutes for the Urban Forest Bylaw Task Force are posted at: https://www.colwood.ca/city-hall/committees/colwood-committee-index/urba...
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 will I need to do if I want to remove a tree on my property?
Complete and submit a Tree Management Application, which you can download here or pick 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 the replacement tree cannot be planted, a deposit may be allocated to a fund to plant replacement trees elsewhere in the community.
When removing one to five trees, they must be replaced at a 1:1 ratio and no security deposit is required. When removing more than five trees, they must be replaced at a 2:1 ratio and security deposits are required.
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 to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning.
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?
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 is $75. You may also be asked to provide the following along with your completed application form:
- An arborist report and site plan, or tree survey
- A tree protection plan
- A tree replacement plan
- A security deposit (if removing more than 5 trees)
Application form and full bylaw
Need more information?
For more information about the Urban Forest Bylaw, or if you would like to report an unauthorized tree removal in progress, please contact the Planning Department at 250-478-5999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.