Oakville strengthens tree protection with updates to the Private Tree Protection By-law

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

New procedure will support the town’s efforts to achieve 40 per cent tree canopy coverage by 2057

At the March 25 Council meeting, Town Council approved additional measures to further protect the town’s tree canopy. As part of the town’s enhanced Private Tree Protection By-law adopted in 2017, town staff have developed a new procedure under the by-law to detail the key steps for assessing applications for private tree removal. This procedure aims to reinforce the guidelines for conserving trees on private property, reduce unwarranted removal of healthy trees and enhance the overall tree canopy of the town.

The new procedure follows the completion of a study carried out by a team of consultants from the University of Toronto and the Ontario Woodlot Association. The study aimed to evaluate and measure the potential of the Private Tree Protection by-law as an effective tool to mitigate the impacts of Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 in achieving Oakville’s goal of having 40 per cent tree canopy cover by 2057. 

Analysis of the number of trees that were removed, replaced, and preserved within the six years before and after the current private tree by-law was put in place indicates that the town’s regulations are successfully improving tree protection. Since the introduction of strengthened Private Tree Protection By-law in 2017, more than 345 trees with a total tree canopy cover of 11,914 square metres have been preserved through consultation and site visits. 

The study also outlined additional recommendations for the town to consider to ensure continued success in private tree protection and meet its overall tree canopy goal, including:  

  • Removing cedar from the list of suitable replacement trees when permits are issued to remove any other coniferous or deciduous tree protected under the by-law. Cedar trees are slow growing and cannot compensate for the loss of canopy cover of the removed trees. In the coming days, a list of suitable replacement trees for planting will be added to the Private Tree Protection page for residents to consider and staff will continue to work closely with approved permit holders on how to incorporate approved replacement trees into their landscaping plans. 
  • Limiting the practice of accepting cash in-lieu of tree replacement with replacement trees planted on municipal property as a condition of tree removal permits when there is room to replant trees on the same property. 
  • Avoid issuing permits for the removal of all by-law protected trees from private properties slated for development, if reasonable opportunities exists to keep healthy trees.

These conditions have been incorporated into the new procedure, now in effect. For more information, review the Updated Private Tree Protection By-law 2017-38 staff report included in the March 25, 2024 Council meeting agenda.


“The town’s urban forest plays a critical role in mitigating the impacts of climate change and contributing to overall health and well-being of the community. Monitoring data reveals that we are on track toward meeting our canopy cover goal of 40 per cent by 2057, the year of our bicentennial. Taking additional steps for the protection and growth of the town’s tree canopy is crucial to ensure a thriving and vibrant town for our residents.”

—    Mayor Rob Burton


  • The town’s urban forest is made up of all the trees growing in Oakville, including town-owned street and park trees, trees in forested areas, as well as trees on private property.
  • The Private Tree Protection By-law applies to all private property in the town but does not apply to a woodland or greenlands that are governed by the Halton Region Tree By-law 121-05.
  • The by-law regulates or prohibits the injury or destruction of trees on private property within the Town of Oakville. Any trees greater than 15 centimetres in diameter requires residents to have an assessment done by a town tree inspector prior to removal. If approved, a permit and fee is required before a tree(s) is removed. 
  • Any healthy trees that are removed above 15 centimetres in diameter must be replaced with new trees.