New private tree protections on the horizon

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New private tree protections on the horizon
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Rob Burton

Rob Burton

Rob Burton is the mayor of Oakville, Ontario. He was elected as Mayor in 2006, and re-elected for a third term in 2014. Mr. Burton is best known in the business community as the creator of YTV. He has a Master of Science degree in Journalism from Columbia University.

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This month, Council will be voting on new amendments that will strengthen our current private tree protections and better preserve our current tree canopy.

Oakville’s recent I-Tree report has shown that – despite ice storms and the Emerald Ash Borer – Oakville’s tree canopy is growing. Between 2005 and 2015 we added 100,000 new trees and grew the overall canopy cover by 1.3 percentage points.

That’s a significant achievement, but Council is determined to find ways to better protect Oakville’s current canopy cover.

Among other things, the proposed amendment amendments would create new requirements for replanting and create stricter guidelines and fees for removing healthy trees.

These changes will also include provisions to address a current conflict of interest problem within the bylaw. Dead, terminally infested or imminently hazardous trees can currently be removed without a permit if they are determined to be a danger by a certified commercial arborist.

Last Council meeting, Mayor Burton introduced a report directing staff to address this potential conflict of interest within their recommendations. Council is expected to vote on the final report in the coming months.

Below you can find some of the more significant changes being proposed:

Current bylaw

  1. Any tree with a diameter of 20cm or more is subject to the private tree protection bylaw
  2. As many as four trees with diameters up to 76cm can be removed every year without a permit
  3. Replanting is not required unless explicitly stated within a permit, but details are not included in the bylaw
  4. Fifth tree removal costs $248 and any tree over 76cm in diameter costs $621

Proposed bylaw

  1. Any tree with a diameter of 15 cm or more is subject to the private tree protection bylaw
  2. Notification process is removed, all trees above 15cm require a permit for approval
  3. One tree must be replanted for every 10cm of tree removed, with size and height regulations provided
  4. First tree (15 to 24cm) costs $50 plus mandatory replanting and each additional tree costs $325


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Readers Comments (3)

  1. Jay Ritter says:

    Very strange need for this proposal. Trees on personal property are the responsibility of the owner who pays taxes! The only time the town should have any responsibility is in the interest of public safety or in the respect of neighbouring or city property.
    If I decide to remove a tree to rearrange my property or respect the safety of other people surrounding my property I should have the freedom to do so! But I would always plant another!

  2. Kerry Applin says:

    Makes me think twice about planting trees on my property. I have one out-of-control bush that I planted years ago that has taken over my front yard.

    I agree with Jay. If I want to re-arrange my landscaping, I should not be punished for it. I’m actually okay with the mandatory replanting just not the bill (Fine) on top of the cost of the tree itself.

  3. Sharon Gallinger says:

    So, we need a permit now and a charge for each tree? That’s just a cash grab. Plus the cost of an arborist to confirm a tree is dead? Ridiculous.


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