Tree Removal Permit

The descriptions below are a summary of the key points of the Tree Bylaw, however, we encourage readers to carefully read and familiarize themselves with the Bylaw itself. This information is intended to be a helpful reference that can point you to specific portions of the Bylaw for a complete description of terms and conditions.

New Westminster's Urban Forest

New Westminster's urban forest is declining at a rate of 1.5% per year and the majority of this loss is occurring on private land. The Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7799, 2016 was adopted to preserve trees on both private and public property and to assist in growing the City's urban forest. If you wish to cut or remove a tree in your back, side, or front yard, you may require a permit under provision of this Bylaw.

New Westminster preserves trees through the Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7799, 2016, which prevents unnecessary harm or removal of trees on public and private lands. The Bylaw regulates which, when, and how trees can be removed or altered through such acts as pruning, root cutting or topping.  The Bylaw also establishes the City's authority to issue tree removal permits and set related fees, as well as the requirement for replacement trees and security for their provision and maintenance. This Bylaw came into effect on January 13th, 2016.

Tree removal may be required:

  • During construction and renovation or
  • Because the trees are diseased, dying, or present a hazard

When is a permit to remove a tree needed?

A permit is required to remove or cut a protected tree. Protected trees include:

  • Trees with a diameter of 20 cm or greater when measured at chest height (1.3 metres above the base of the tree) or
  • Trees with more than one stem at 1.3 metres above grade and the combined diameter of its two largest trunks or stems is 20 centimetres or greater or
  • Trees with evidence of nesting birds or
  • Trees that do not meet the size requirements but were a condition of a plan or permit approval or
  • Trees that form a hedge that is greater than 5 meters high or
  • Trees on all City owned lands including boulevards, streets, parks and open spaces.

How to measure your tree(s):

Click to enlarge

When is a Tree Removal Permit not required?

Permits are not required to remove or cut a tree when:

  • A tree does not qualify as a protected tree
  • A tree must be cut in response to an emergency in order to protect public safety or private property (conditions still apply related to replacement of such trees)

A permit is furthermore not required to prune a tree in accordance with defined specifications.

When is a Tree Removal Permit issued?

A Tree Removal Permit may be issued if one of the following conditions exist:

  • The protected tree is a hazardous tree
  • The protected tree is located within the buildable site footprint that would be permitted under applicable zoning and related bylaws, and the design of the structure could not be modified to enable the protected tree to be retained or
  • The roots of the protected tree are interfering with, or presenting a hazard to, underground or overhead services and utilities where removal of the tree is the only means to address the issue.

Applying for a Tree Removal Permit

  1. To apply for a tree removal permit, please visit the Development Services Department at City Hall (Mon & Fri: 8:00am-12:00 pm; Tues, Wed, Thurs:  8:00 am - 4:00 pm) Application submissions may require the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Supporting documentation as related to your particular tree removal situation. Documentation will typically include:
    • An arborists report and site plan, or tree survey
    • A tree protection plan
    • A tree replacement plan
  • Application fee
  1. If the tree to be removed is hazardous*, the City may also require:

  • Documentation/photos to confirm that the hazardous tree poses an imminent risk to the public
  • Letter from adjacent property owner permitting removal of a shared tree
  • Tree survey and permission from neighbours to cut shared tree(s) or structural roots
  • A written letter of consent from the Strata Council if the tree you wish to remove is located on strata property
  • A report from a plumber and arborist certifying that the roots of the tree are interfering with, blocking, or damaging a drainage or sewage system
  • A report from an arborist that the tree is causing damage to property, including damage to roofs, foundations, retaining walls and sidewalks, that standard arboriculture practices cannot rectify
  • A Tree Replacement and/or Tree Protection Plan

* "Hazardous tree" means a tree identified in writing by an arborist as having defects sufficient to significantly increase the likelihood that all or part of the tree will fall, resulting in a risk of personal injury or property damage or loss.

  1. If the tree to be removed is a result of proposed demolition, construction, or renovation, the City may also require:

  • Tree survey (by registered land surveyor)
  • Title search obtained from the Land Title Office (within 72 hours)
  • Confirmation if the tree is a specimen tree (a large and mature deciduous or coniferous tree with a DBH greater than 60 centimetres)
  • Arborist Report prepared by an ISA  (International Society of Arboriculture) certified arborist. For a list of certified arborists in New Westminster please visit the ASCA website and ISA website (This is a voluntary listing and may not include all the arborists in your area who hold an ISA credential.)
  • Letter from adjacent property owner permitting removal of a shared tree
  • Tree survey and permission from neighbours to cut shared tree(s) or structural roots
  • Tree Replacement and/or Tree Protection Plan

Application and Permit Issuance Process

  1. After all of the required information is submitted and the application fee is paid, the application will be accepted for further review. 
  1. The City Arborist will follow-up to confirm that the site conditions match the plans and/or arborist report submitted with your permit application.
  1. If your application is approved, a tree permit will be issued after the required permit fee(s) and securities are paid.
  1. You must post your tree permit in a location visible from an adjacent street during the removal, relocation, or replacement of a tree.
  1. A tree removal permit is valid for six months from the date it is issued.
  1. Required replacement trees (1:1 for hazardous trees and 2:1 for non-hazardous trees) must be planted within 6 months (or specified time period) of receiving a tree permit.  Securities will be returned upon proof that the replacement trees has been maintained for 1 year.
     
  2. No less than 1 replacement tree shall be planted on the same lot as the trees that are cut or removed. If the lot cannot accommodate some or all of the required replacement trees, the city will accept cash-in-lieu of payment.

What if the tree is in imminent danger of falling?

In the event that a protected tree is in imminent danger of falling and injuring persons or property due to natural causes, and it is not possible to obtain a permit prior to the tree falling, the owner may cut the tree or have it cut, but shall report the cutting of the tree to the City within the next business day along with a photograph of the tree prior to such cutting. The owner shall not remove the tree from the lot until the city has attended the site and has confirmed the tree was in imminent danger of falling. In this instance, the trees that are cut must be replaced in accordance with the City's Tree Regulation and Protection Bylaw. If the City determines that the tree was not in imminent danger of falling, or was in imminent danger of falling due to reasons other than natural causes, the owner may be subject to the offences and penalties.

Fees and Securities

Item Fee
Application Fee                $75.00

Permit fee (general)  1-10 trees

$75.00 per tree

Permit fee (general)  over 10 trees

$150.00 per tree

Permit fee (hazardous)  single tree

$50.00

Permit fee (hazardous)  multiple trees

$50.00 for the first tree, plus $25.00 each additional tree
Security or cash-in-lieu per replacement tree (general) $500.00
Security or cash-in-lieu per replacement tree when replacing a hazardous specimen tree $500.00
Security or cash-in-lieu per replacement tree when replacing a non-hazardous specimen tree $10,000.00
Security per retained protected tree, other than a specimen tree $2500.00
Security per retained specimen tree $10,000.00

 

Download the Tree Protection and Removal Permit Application form here.

Download the Tree Protection Application

Questions and Assistance

Need help? Read our frequently asked questions page.

For more information about the Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw or if you would like to report an illegal tree removal in progress, please email Parks and Recreation at or by calling 604-636-4318.