Urban Forest Bylaw Task Force recommendations

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...

UPDATE: May 14, 2018
At the May 14, 2018 Council meeting, Council gave direction for staff to proceed with amendments to the interim Urban Forest Bylaw, inlcuding:

  • An accepted Tree Management Plan overrides the City bylaw (for example, Royal Colwood Golf Course has an extensive Tree Management Plan)
  • No security deposit is required for the removal of 1-5 trees
  • Protected trees include:
    • Arbutus, Garry Oak, Pacific Dogwood and Pacific Yew of 4cm diameter or more
    • Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Big Leaf Maple and Western Red Cedar of 30cm in diameter or more
  • Removal of up to 5 trees per calendar year requires a permit, site plan and 1:1 tree replacement
  • Removal of more than 5 trees per calendar year requires a permit, tree management plan by a qualified person, 2:1 replacement and security deposit
  • Staff will report back to Council on the cost of developing a Forest Management Plan

UPDATE: April 9, 2018
​The Task Force presented their final report and recommendations to Council on April 9, 2018.


Colwood's urban forest is declining every year, and much of this loss is occurring on private land. The INTERIM 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.

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 can I check if the City is aware that a tree is being removed in my neighbourhood?

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? (The details below are subject to change according to the citizen Task Force recommendations.)

A permit is required to remove or cut a protected tree. Protected trees include:

  • Trees with a diameter of 20 cm or greater when measured at chest height (1.4metres above the base of the tree) or
  • Trees with more than one stem at 1.3 metres above grade and the combined diameter of its two largest trunks or stems is 20 centimetres or greater or
  • Arbutus, Garry Oak and Pacific Dogwood trees or
  • Trees with evidence of nesting birds or
  • Trees that do not meet the size requirements but were a condition of a plan or permit approval or
  • Trees that form a hedge that is greater than 5 meters high or
  • Trees on all City owned lands including boulevards, streets, parks and open spaces.

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, the deposit will be allocated to a fund to plant replacement trees elsewhere in the community.

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. A security deposit is also required for each replacement tree that is required to be planted. The following along with your completed application form:

  • An arborists report and site plan, or tree survey
  • A tree protection plan
  • A tree replacement plan

Application form and full bylaw

Download the Tree Management Permit Application form

Download the Sample Tree Site Plan

Download the Guide to the Colwood Urban Forest Bylaw

Download Bylaw 1724 - Amended Interim Urban Forest 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 planning@colwood.ca.