Frequently Asked Questions

Does the bylaw apply to all trees on private property?

The Bylaw regulates the cutting or removal of protected trees (see below for definition). A permit is required to remove or cut a protected tree.

What is a protected tree?

Protected trees include the following:

  • Trees with a diameter of ≥ 20cm when measured at 1.3m (4' 3") above grade;
  • For trees with more than one stem, the combined diameter of its two largest trunks or stems is ≥ 20cm when measured at 1.3m (4’ 3”) above grade;
  • Trees with evidence of nesting birds;
  • Trees planted as a condition of a plan or permit approval, regardless of size (eg. a replacement tree);
  • A hedge that is ≥ 5m in height; or
  • Trees or shrubs of any size on all City-owned or occupied lands.


When is a tree considered hazardous?

A tree is considered hazardous when it has been assessed as having defects which could contribute to an elevated level of risk. Tree risk assessments are performed by certified arborists who have obtained their Tree Risk Assessment Qualification through the International Society of Arboriculture and are trained in the systematic process of evaluating tree risk.

According to the Tree Bylaw, a hazardous tree is “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”.

What is the benefit of regulating and protecting trees on private property?

The intent of the Tree Bylaw is to protect trees on private property from being unnecessarily damaged or removed. It is one component of the larger comprehensive Urban Forest Management Strategy which recognizes the important environmental, aesthetic and economic benefits that trees provide to the residents of New Westminster.

Are hedges protected under this bylaw?

Protected hedges are 5 metres or higher as measured from the trunk flare to the tip of the tallest branch A hedge is defined as five or more trees or shrubs planted less than 1.25 metres apart and maintained as a hedge.

What are the replacement requirements for trees that are cut or removed under the Tree Bylaw?

For each hazardous/dead tree removed, 1 replacement tree must be planted and maintained.

For all other protected tree removals, 2 replacement trees are required.

For the removal of protected hedges, a replacement of 1 tree per 4m of hedge is required.

What happens if someone violates the Tree Bylaw, and what are the penalties for non-compliance?

Violations of the Tree Bylaw can result in fines, restoration requirements, or legal action.

The canopy of my neighbor’s tree is encroaching onto my property/touching my building. What can I do?

The first step would be to speak with your neighbor to come to a mutual solution. All pruning must be conducted within accepted arboricultural practices ensuring the tree is not damaged or topped. Branches overhanging a property can be pruned by the property owner without a permit. To make the most ideal pruning cuts, the pruner may need access around the base of the tree. 

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