Tree Protection Bylaw Review

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The North Saanich tree canopy plays an important role in the health and well-being of the North Saanich natural environment and community. This bylaw aims to find a balanced approach to protect the District's tree canopy for current and future residents, while providing some flexibility for residents to manage the trees on their land.

About the Tree Protection Bylaw

The North Saanich Tree Protection Bylaw regulates the cutting, removal or damaging of trees on private property. It was adopted in 2002. Since then, North Saanich’s community forest and the challenges it faces have evolved. The District is reviewing its Tree Protection Bylaw to align with current best practices and conditions, while ensuring it responds to community values. The review will include establishing requirements for replacing protected trees.

We are in Phase 2: Draft Bylaw Update

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the draft Tree Protection Bylaw. We have summarized what we heard in the Phase 2 Report: Engagement on Key Directions. On Monday, August 16 Council reviewed the Phase 2 report and considered alternatives to the Key Directions in response to what we've heard from you. The Project Team expect to bring back the revised engagement plan, work plan and budget later this fall.

Please subscribe for project updates to stay informed.

The North Saanich tree canopy plays an important role in the health and well-being of the North Saanich natural environment and community. This bylaw aims to find a balanced approach to protect the District's tree canopy for current and future residents, while providing some flexibility for residents to manage the trees on their land.

About the Tree Protection Bylaw

The North Saanich Tree Protection Bylaw regulates the cutting, removal or damaging of trees on private property. It was adopted in 2002. Since then, North Saanich’s community forest and the challenges it faces have evolved. The District is reviewing its Tree Protection Bylaw to align with current best practices and conditions, while ensuring it responds to community values. The review will include establishing requirements for replacing protected trees.

We are in Phase 2: Draft Bylaw Update

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the draft Tree Protection Bylaw. We have summarized what we heard in the Phase 2 Report: Engagement on Key Directions. On Monday, August 16 Council reviewed the Phase 2 report and considered alternatives to the Key Directions in response to what we've heard from you. The Project Team expect to bring back the revised engagement plan, work plan and budget later this fall.

Please subscribe for project updates to stay informed.

Questions about the project?

Ask your questions about the current bylaw, scope of the review, public engagement or anything else related to the Tree Protection Bylaw Review.
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    How do I and my neighbours submit our displeasure with this draft bylaw for official consideration? I notice the survey is closed and we were not even aware of this because it was such a short wiindow.

    Amy asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question and comments. We are sorry to hear that you missed the opportunity to provide you feedback through the Phase 2 survey. A postcard was sent to each household highlighting the opportunities to get involved including the survey (open for 4 weeks) and virtual presentation and Q&A event. You can always write to staff at planning@northsaanich.ca or Council at corporateservices@northsaanich.ca to share your perspective. We are targeting to bring the Phase 2 Engagement Summary and draft Tree Protection Bylaw to Council in August. Please subscribe for project updates to stay informed.

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    Does the Tree Bylaw make it clear that the intention is to protect the trees? We, as residents, need to remember the roles of trees in protecting us from the excesses of climate change, and the stabilization of our environment. Statements (paraphrasing from the Peninsula News Review) such as: the by-law is written for the trees and not the people who live here, seem to reflect a self-centred attitude. Removing mature trees should be avoided unless they represent a hazard.. Topping of trees should be eliminated because it irreversibly damages tree structure, and results in a temporary fix; which leaves the judicious windowing of trees as the only possibility to retain views. “Saner heads” might prevail, but only when we realize that the By-Law should, indeed, be about protecting trees and not our views.

    Joseph asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question and comments. One of the key directions identified from Phase 1 was to update the goals stated in the draft Tree Protection Bylaw to ensure they are consistent with other relevant District policy. The goals can be found on page 2 of the draft Tree Protection Bylaw. Please subscribe for project updates to stay informed.

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    The Draft Tree Bylaw makes no mention about the use of topping or windowing as methods to maintain or open up views from properties. These methods are often used by homeowners whose original views are gradually reduced through the growth of trees in their or someone else’s property. The use of topping as a method to maintain views is frequent; but it results in unsightly trees that eventually fork and regrow to block the view repeatedly. The use of windowing is potentially more appealing, leaving the height of the tree intact, while allowing views, as well as light and air to permeate. Will the Tree Bylaw consider provisions for maintenance of views, and if so will there be recommendations in regard to methods used.

    Joseph asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your comments and question. Pruning is defined in the draft Tree Protection Bylaw as the cutting of twigs or branches in accordance with Sound Aboricultural Practice. 

    Pruning of trees (such as crown lifting or window pruning) is allowed without a permit so long as it is done in accordance with arboricultural best practices. The pruning should not cause damage to the trees.

    Topping trees is not an acceptable arboricultural practice and is prohibited in bylaws throughout the region, including in North Saanich's current Tree Protection Bylaw. A tree that has been topped in the past, can be re-topped with a tree permit if is creating a high or extreme risk.

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    What is the point of a significant tree? Does it mean that it is protected? If so, why the recent travesty of removal and atrocious limbing of significant oaks at Tseycum/Mills Rd?

    Joseph asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your questions. A significant tree is a tree with a diameter greater than 60cm (24 inches) or more at breast height and is also considered a protected tree as defined in the draft Tree Protection Bylaw. The Garry Oaks that you are referring to have recently had a health and risk assessment and are receiving significant pruning due to rot and airport height restrictions. The current Tree Protection Bylaw only protects nine Garry Oaks at the corner of West Saanich and Mills Road. Please subscribe for project updates to stay informed.

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    I just drove by the end of Towner Park Rd, and saw the two houses on the south side of the road. One is a new house, with not a single tree standing. The other is an older house that has been clear cut. I understand they are owned by the same person. Why do we have a tree bylaw at all if this kind of clearing is allowed. I live across Braemar from the big house being built and watched the hoops he went through with the tree bylaw. Seems like a double standard here. Larry Drader

    Larry Drader asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your comments and question. The current bylaw allows for annual removals and does not have any replacement requirements, over time this can lead to a lot having few or no trees. Currently the draft Tree Protection Bylaw includes annual tree removal allowances in addition to replacement requirements and tree density targets. We encourage you to subscribe for project updates to stay informed.

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    Is there any consideration towards the fact that many people are replacing trees with other ornamental trees that are easier to manage. Also if the District wishes to promote keeping trees it would seem that making it easier for people to get rid of the results from windstorms easier. There is pressure ( every year) to ban burning which leaves the only alternative to rent a chipper or pay to have branches hauled to the Municipal yard. Of course the other option I’m reluctant to mention is to simply pile flammable material in your yard.

    Randy asked 8 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. We will be developing a species list that will take into consideration recommended species for current climate conditions, suitability and placement criteria. We encourage you to provide your feedback through the upcoming survey in Phase 2. Please subscribe for project updates to stay informed. 

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    Has anyone seen Ben Parfitt's report on Managing BC's Forests for a Cooler Planet? Some good advice that can be found at : policyalternatives.ca/coolforests

    IRFANCEY asked 9 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this resource.

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    Does the current or proposed bylaws distinguish between invasive species? There was a mature English Hawthorne on the property we rent, and as best as I could tell we were breaking one bylaw by allowing it to grow, and would break another bylaw if we cut it down (stump diameters were almost 20 inches total). I don't really like invasive plants, so I was lucky when the tree's limbs fell off and then most of the tree fell over and then the tree stump fell out of the ground. But it seemed confusing as to what the proper course of action was.

    Mike asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for your question. The Tree Protection Bylaw does not currently distinguish invasive tree species from other trees. Residents are however currently allowed to remove up to five trees larger than 20 cm in diameter every year, which could be used towards the removal of undesirable trees such as invasive species. The updated bylaw will consider how to align with other regulations in the District, including for the regulation of invasive species.

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    There is not a shortage of trees problem in North Saanich and we do not need more bureaucracy. Property owners should be able to make their own decisions regarding tree cutting. In the same way the Pierre Trudeau once promised to "stay our of the bedrooms of the nation', I would like the municipality to stay out of my back yard.

    Bruce asked 11 months ago

    Thank you for the comment. We encourage you to provide your feedback through the survey (if you haven't already).

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    What are the bylaws for Garry Oak and arbutus on pirate property?where does one find the written regulation for NS?

    Currie asked 11 months ago

    Thank you for the question. The only trees of special interest within the current tree protection bylaw are those within Schedule D (Significant Trees) which include a number of Garry Oaks. The current Tree Protection Bylaw as well as an info sheet can be found in the document library on the Tree Protection Bylaw review page. See all documents here: https://www.connectnorthsaanich.ca/tree-bylaw/widgets/67202/documents

Page last updated: 24 August 2021, 09:07