Congratulations to the City of Burlington’s Implementation of a City-Wide Private Tree Bylaw

Author: Sadia Butt, OUFC

After the City of Burlington’s council declared a Climate Emergency on April 23, 2019, staff began working on implementing a city-wide private tree bylaw. Recognizing that trees were an essential component of climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation along with the fact that nearly 90 % of Burlington’s land is privately owned set the scenario to ensure trees on private land were protected.  A pilot project that was in place in one community for two years served to elicit feedback from the community and to determine the extent of municipal resources required to ensure the by-law’s implementation and enforcement. 

As of January 27, 2020, residents within Burlington’s urban boundary will need to apply for a permit with on-site consultation, to remove trees greater than 20cm diameter at breast height (dbh) or removals of more than five trees between 10 -20cm dbh in a calendar year. Within this by-law, heritage and endangered trees are also protected. In addition, activities that can harm or injure a tree are also required to have a permit. These activities range from adding structures to excavations or re-grading the land. 

On the City’s Website they state that:

“The Urban Forest is made up of hundreds of thousands of trees throughout the City, located along City streets and parks, woodlots as well as trees located on private property. The Urban Forest provides countless benefits to a community, including cooling the local environment, reducing the urban heat island effect, storing rainwater, cleaning the air, providing a home for wildlife and improving mental health. As a community resource, we all have a role to play in protecting and maintaining this resource well into the future.” The City is holding several public meetings to allow residents to learn about the by-law and its implications.

To learn more, visit City of Burlington