Tue, 02 May 2017
New regulations call for a stronger focus on canopy conservation
Efforts to preserve Oakville’s tree canopy received a significant boost on May 1, 2017, as Council unanimously voted to adopt a new private tree protection by-law in an effort to curb the unnecessary removal of healthy trees. Under the new regulations, property owners who wish to remove trees from their property will need a permit and may also be required to plant new trees to replace the lost canopy.
“Oakville’s urban forest provides incredible environmental, economic and health benefits to our community,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. “It is critical that we protect and grow that urban forest for future generations, which Council is seeking to do by strengthening Oakville’s existing private tree protections.”
The new by‐law requires residents to have any trees greater than 15 centimetres or 6 inches in diameter assessed by a town tree inspector to determine if the tree should be removed. Once approved, property owners will be required to have a permit and pay the applicable fee prior to the tree’s removal. In addition, any healthy trees above 15 centimetres in diameter removed from private property must be replaced with new trees.
Dead and hazardous trees, ash trees and the invasive buckthorn require an inspection and permit but are exempt from fees and replacement plantings.
A new online form makes it easy to apply for a permit and assessment.
“Homeowners and arborists can easily apply online for a tree removal permit and receive an on-site consultation from one of our tree inspectors. The consultation process will respect homeowner’s desire to make home and landscaping improvements, but we can help them to do so in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Chris Mark, director, Parks and Open Space.
The town first adopted a private tree protection by-law in 2008. It regulated the removal of trees from private property but allowed property owners to remove as many as four trees per year, measuring up to 76 centimetres in diameter each, without a permit and without the condition of replanting. In 2014, Council directed staff to undertake a review of the by-law to identify stronger protections for the urban forest. Town staff reviewed other municipal private tree protection by-laws and held public meetings to gather feedback from residents and stakeholders over the last few years to develop the new regulation.
The private tree protection by-law is one of a number of programs the town has implemented to manage, protect and renew the urban forest to reach a 40 per cent canopy coverage goal. The town’s current canopy coverage is 27.8 per cent.
For more information, visit the private tree protection page.