Tree Bylaw Frequently Asked Questions
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?
- Garry Oak (Quercus garryana)
- Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
- Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)
- Pacific (or Western) Yew (Taxus brevifolia)
- Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
- Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
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 [PDF - 1 MB] to determine how the tree protection and management requirements affect your property. An interactive 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.