Tree Protection Bylaw

The City of Victoria has committed to the protection and enhancement of the urban forest, as outlined in the Urban Forest Master Plan (2013) and the Strategic Plan (2019).

Victoria’s new Tree Protection Bylaw protects the trees we have now and helps grow our urban forest for the future. The bylaw came into effect on July 1, 2021 and applies to trees on private property, including those that are undergoing development. The new bylaw implements several recommendations in the Urban Forest Master Plan and aligns with leading practices and standards across the region.

The purpose of the Tree Protection Bylaw is to provide for the protection and preservation of trees on private property. If you would like to prune, remove, or work in the protect root zone of a bylaw protected tree, a permit may be required. Please contact treepermits@victoria.ca.

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Tree Removal Conditions

The Tree protection bylaw outlines the conditions where a tree permit may be issued to cut or remove a bylaw protected tree. Examples of when property owners may be granted permission to remove a bylaw protected tree include:

  • The tree is a hazard tree and the risk cannot be mitigated other than by cutting or removing the tree, or the tree is dead
  • The tree is a regulated invasive plant, or an unregulated invasive plant of concern in B.C.
  • The trunk of the tree is located within the building envelope and the removal of the tree is necessary for the purpose of constructing a building, an addition to a building, or construction of an accessory building
  • The tree is causing, or will in the near future cause, structure or infrastructure damage that cannot be mitigated other than by cutting or removing the protected tree

If permission is granted, property owners may have to pay a permit fee and/or security. These are outlined in Section 23-26 of the new bylaw. Where replacement trees or retention of protected trees are required as a condition of the tree permit, the applicant must provide to the City security in the form of cash or letter of credit.

If a property owner provides evidence to the satisfaction of the Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities that they cannot accommodate replacement trees on their property due to the size or characteristics of their lot, property owners will be required to pay $2,000 cash-in-lieu for each replacement tree or tree seedling that cannot be accommodated on the site.  

Property Development

Tree information must be provided, and tree permits may be required, for development related applications that include any of the following:

  • Rezoning
  • Subdivision
  • Development permits
  • Development variance permits
  • Temporary use permits associated with new building or an addition to an existing building
  • Heritage alteration permits
  • Building permits associated with:
    • Demolition, blasting or construction of a principal building
    • Construction of an accessory building (including garden suites) or an addition to an existing building more than 10m², excluding deck, patio, and balcony areas

Refer to this information sheet for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What size of trees are protected?

    A protected tree means any of the following:

    • A hedge that contains any single stem with a diameter at breast height (DBH) over 30 cm
    • A tree with a DBH over 30 cm
    • Garry oak, arbutus, Pacific yew, Pacific dogwood over 50 cm in height
    • A replacement tree
    • A tree that is protected by a restrictive covenant in favour of the City
    • A tree that is on a slope where the slope grade is greater than 33 per cent over 10 metres
    • A tree that is within 15 metres of the natural boundary of a watercourse
  2. What is DBH and how do I calculate it?

    DBH stands for “diameter at breast height” and means:

    (a) For a tree having a single trunk at 1.4 m above the existing grade, the diameter of the trunk measured at 1.4 m above the existing grade

    (b) For a tree having two or more stems at 1.4 m above the existing grade, the cumulative total of the diameter of the three largest stems measured at 1.4 m above the existing grade

    (c) For a hedge, the diameter of the largest stem measured at 1.4 m above the existing grade

  3. Are hedges protected?

    Hedges are bylaw protected when the hedge contains a stem that has a diameter at breast height of 30 cm. To be considered a hedge, a row of five or more trees on consistent size and form are planted less than 1.24 m apart from one another on centre.

  4. What is the Tree Minimum?

    A new Tree Minimum has been established to help grow Victoria’s urban forest canopy. The former Tree Preservation Bylaw required replacement of every tree removed. The new Tree Protection bylaw still requires replacement for trees removed, but also adds a requirement to meet a minimum tree number on private property through the Tree Minimum when a property is developed.