Courtenay Reviewing Tree Management and Protection Bylaw

June 3, 2016

The City of Courtenay is looking for ways to maintain and enhance the treed character that the Comox Valley is known for, and the public is invited to provide input. The existing Tree Management and Protection Bylaw is being reviewed to explore including more properties, more species, and provide clearer guidance on how many trees should be retained or replaced when doing tree removal.

The City is holding two upcoming public meetings and is issuing a survey for feedback on the proposed bylaw changes.

On Wednesday June 15, 2016, from 5 to 7:30 pm at the Evergreen Lounge at the Florence Filberg Centre, the City’s environmental planner Nancy Gothard will give a presentation at 6 pm, followed by a question and answer session.

On Tuesday June 21, 2016, from noon to 2 pm at the Courtenay Library, City staff will be available to discuss the proposed bylaw changes. * Please note: date has changed. This session was originally scheduled for June 16.

Both meetings will have display boards and hard copies of the survey available. The two meetings will provide the same information although the presentation will only be given on Wednesday.

The survey and background material are also available online at . Fill in the survey and be entered into a prize draw for a slow-release tree watering bag. The survey deadline is June 30, 2016.

“We’re excited to be taking the draft bylaw changes to the public for input,” says Gothard. “We’ve known for some time that the bylaw could be improved, not only to protect more trees, but also to be easier to administer and understand.”

The proposed bylaw changes include the addition of Arbutus, Western white pine, Trembling aspen and Pacific yew to the protected species list in addition to the already protected Garry oak and Pacific dogwood. The City is also considering whether the bylaw should be applied to more lands, or even City-wide.

“We’re hearing from the public and the development community that consistent application of regulations is desired across all properties, to level the playing field,” says Gothard. “The City must balance this consideration with our capacity to deliver the bylaw. We want to hear what the public has to say about it.”

Other proposed changes include using a target number of trees per property based on lot size. Standards would be based on the experience of some other B.C. communities, and how many trees seem reasonable to retain on an individual property. A target of 50 trees per hectare is being considered. The goal would be to retain existing trees, but replanting or paying into a replanting fund would be an option in some circumstances. The guidelines would apply to new subdivisions as well. Using this target, a single family home on a 650 square meter lot (0.16 acres) would be required to retain or replant three trees when seeking a tree removal permit.

Where trees cannot be reasonably retained or replanted, the option would be available to pay $300 per tree into the Tree Planting and Replacement Fund, which will then be used to plant trees on public land or make incentives available for private property tree planting in neighbourhoods with few trees, such as the Downtown.

“A goal of the Bylaw review is to ensure that our urban forest doesn’t continue to decline,” says Gothard. “We’re aiming for a bylaw that balances the values of retaining mature trees now, with development that provides new trees for the future. A multi-generational and bio-diverse urban forest evenly spread across the community is likely to be a healthy urban forest, which provides benefits such as wildlife habitat, shade, air quality, carbon capture, and assisting with storm water management.”

For more information, please contact Nancy Gothard, City of Courtenay environmental planner, at 250-334-4441 or email