Tree Management

*New* Tree Management Regulations in Courtenay

On May 15, 2017 Council adopted the new Tree Protection and Management Bylaw No. 2850. This bylaw regulates the removal of trees on private property. Information on the new tree protection and management regulations are available below. You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with the FAQ section to determine whether, and how, the bylaw may apply to your property.

Background information on the consultation and research on the new bylaw is at the bottom of the page.

Quick links:

Please be advised that tree removal in environmentally sensitive areas, such as riparian areas, always requires a Tree Cutting Permit and also may require an Environmental Development Permit, more information on which is available here.


Why regulate the removal of trees?

Trees provide important community services and values including pollution and stormwater absorption, oxygen production, water quality improvement, carbon sequestration, shade, wind breaks, noise reduction, privacy, wildlife habitat and neighbourhood beautification. The City’s Official Community Plan supports enhanced tree protection and management as valued community assets. 

What are the goals of the Tree Bylaw?

Specifically, the Tree Bylaw sets expectations for retaining trees, replanting or paying cash-in-lieu to plant trees elsewhere on public land such as local parks, when trees are removed. There are different requirements for different sized properties and whether the tree being removed is a protected species.

A guiding principle in the Bylaw is that all properties account for their ‘share’ of the urban forest when removing trees by achieving the “Tree Density Target” of 50 trees per hectare of developable land. This “Tree Density Target” translates to 3 or 4 trees for most single family properties in Courtenay.

What are the protected species in Courtenay?

Trees of this species as small as 0.5m in height are protected in Courtenay.

If you want to remove any of these species you will have to first obtain a Tree Cutting Permit. Please be advised that the City only approves the removal of these species in special circumstances such as if they are preventing development of the property to its allowed zoning, or if hazardous.

How does this Bylaw affect my property?

All properties within the City of Courtenay are subject to the new Bylaw, and all properties are to achieve the “Tree Density Target” when removing trees that are over a certain size. Protected species that are over 0.5m in height are always protected.

If you are not removing trees over 20cm Diameter at Breast Height, you are not required to obtain a tree cutting permit, unless the tree being removed is a protected species.

Follow the flow chart below to determine how the tree protection and management requirements affect your property. An on-line map is also available for you to look up the size of your property and how many trees are required for your property to meet the Tree Density Target.

It is important to remember that the bylaw has different requirements for smaller “infill” properties than for larger “greenfield” properties:

  • Infill properties are defined in the Bylaw as: real property that is less than 4000 square meters in size (approximately 1 acre).
  • Greenfield properties are defined in the Bylaw as: undeveloped real property that is greater than 4000 meters in size (approximately 1 acre) and contains vegetation that has been left to evolve naturally.

Interactive map showing size of properties and number of trees required on Courtenay properties.
View this Tree Management Flow Chart in pdf [PDF - 1 MB]

How much does a Tree Cutting Permit cost?

Different application fees apply for different sized properties, and whether the tree(s) being removed are hazardous.

Single family lots up to 2000m2 (approximately 1/2 acre) or only two trees removed on any sized lot: $50
 Single family lots between 2000m2 and 4000m2 (between 1/2 and 1 acre):  $100
 Larger lots, and new multi-lot subdivisions: $250/4000m2 
 Hazardous tree removal:  No fee


If you have questions about the Tree Protection and Management Bylaw and how it may apply to you, please consult the reference material above or contact City of Courtenay planning staff at or 250 703 4839.

Background information:
Tree Bylaw research, public consultation and Council review

* By clicking on the hyperlink you will be directed to the Council agenda in which the Council report on the Tree Bylaw is contained. Use the Agenda table of contents to locate the Tree Bylaw report. 

Public survey summary findings (and original questionnaire) (please note that more detailed findings on the public consultation is contained within the 1st and 2nd reading Council reports)

2016 public consultation materials prior to Bylaw adoption: