Below is the summary of everything you’ll need to know before applying for a tree permit. Tree permit applications can now be made online using our new Camino Permit Guide.
Please note that City Hall is currently open to members of the public but Covid-19 considerations are still in place. If you wish to speak with a City Arborist you may call them directly or call 604-636-4318 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The most recent version of the Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7799, 2016 can be found here. We encourage you to carefully read and familiarize yourself with the Tree Bylaw prior to starting a large project or making a removal application.
The time of year has come for potential extreme fall and winter weather events. It is important to remember that it is normal for trees to sway in a windstorm. While it can be unnerving to watch, the swaying means the trees internal structure is healthy and doing its job to provide strength and flexibility to the tree. It is also normal for many tree species to shed branches or limbs in a storm. Anything wrist size or smaller is considered within normal range. These branches can still cause minor property damage or personal injury so please be cautious when out in extreme weather.
If there are trees on your property that are causing concern during stormy weather it is a good idea to hire an ISA certified and Tree Risk Assessment Qualified Arborist to conduct a tree risk assessment. If the arborist determines the tree has a high risk of failure then the report should be submitted to the Tree Bylaw Division with a hazard tree removal application.
Below are the steps to follow should you have a protected tree on private property that falls, or is in imminent danger of falling, during a wind or snow storm.
A protected tree is any of the following:
- a tree or shrub of any size located on City-owned or occupied land;
- a tree of any species with a DBH of 20 centimetres or greater;
- a tree with evidence of nesting by a bird, as “bird” is defined in the Wildlife Act, RSBC 1996, c 488;
Section 5.6 of the Tree Bylaw states:
"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 Director 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 at the site and has confirmed that the tree was in imminent danger of falling and injuring persons or property. Trees that are cut pursuant to this section must be replaced in accordance with subsections 7.2 and 7.4, security for which must be provided in accordance with the security requirements for replacement trees set out in section 9.0. 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 in section 11.0."
Steps to take:
- Take photos and video of the tree failure and send them to . You can also call 604-636-4318. Please make sure you put your address in the subject line and include your name and phone number.
- You may have the tree cut down without a permit, however you must notify the Tree Bylaw Division within one business day.
- Leave all tree parts on the property until City Arborist can do an inspection to determine the tree was in imminent danger of falling.
- The tree bylaw staff will follow up with you on how to apply for a tree removal permit/replacement tree plan.
- If you own the house and live on that property then you would qualify for the Resident Applicant fee structure for hazard trees.
- If a protected tree on city property is in imminent danger of falling, has fallen or had a branch failure please call 604-527-4567 or email photos and location of tree to
- New Westminster's urban forest is declining at a rate of 1.5% per year
- 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
For more information:
A permit is required to remove or cut a protected tree. Protected trees include the following:
- Trees with a diameter of ≥ 20cm when measured at 1.3m (4' 3") above grade
- Trees with more than one stem, the combined diameter of its two largest trunks or stems is ≥ 20cm
- Trees with evidence of nesting birds
- Trees that do not meet the size requirements but were a condition of a plan or permit approval
- A hedge that is ≥ 5m in height
- Trees/shrubs of any size on all City-owned or occupied lands
How to measure your tree(s):
- Measure diameter at 1.3m (4' 3") above grade*
- The circumference can then be divided by 3.1416 to obtain the diameter
- With a multi-stem tree, measure diameter of the two largest stems then add them together
*If you do not have a diameter tape, you can determine the diameter of a tree by measuring the circumference of a tree trunk, at 1.3m above ground level, with a regular measuring tape (like measuring your waist size)
A tree permit is required for most construction related activity that takes place on private property. This includes but is not limited to: demolition, building, interior renovations, drain tile or service repairs, oil tank removals, landscaping, irrigation installation, construction of accessory buildings, laneway and carriage homes, etc. Even if there aren't any trees on your property you still need a No Tree Declaration as it is the first step to obtaining other development services permits. A No Tree Declaration is generally processed within 3-5 business days.
A permit is not required for pruning of a protected tree so long as pruning is carried out in accordance with sound arboricultural practice and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 and the latest edition of the companion publication “Best Management Practices – Tree Pruning”, published by the International Society of Arboriculture.
Pruning shall not include:
- Crown raising to the extent that the live crown ratio is less than 50%
- Removal of more than 25% of the crown in a single season
- Pruning or removal of a structural root within the critical root zone of a protected tree
The City of New Westminster has three different types of tree permit applications. See below to identify which one you will require and download all supporting documents.
- Critical Root Zone Work Authorization (CRZWA) - previously known as a protection permit is required for any construction activities occurring within the critical root zone (CRZ) of a protected tree. CRZ is determined by DBH x 6 + 4m.
- Removal permit is required to remove any protected tree on private or city owned and occupied property.
- No Tree Declaration is for properties without any protected trees on or off-site, interior renovations, drain tile, oil tank removal and service upgrades.
A Project Arborist is an ISA Certified Arborist who is hired by the applicant. The tree care professional is independent from the City and provides an unbiased perspective on tree health and management of your property throughout the project.
Project Arborist involvement:
- tree removal reports
- tree inventory reports
- tree health care plans
- replacement tree plans
- tree protection fencing reports
- onsite to supervise all work within critical root zone.
An arborist report is required for any tree removal application and for all major development projects. This includes demolition and rebuild of any single family home or commercial property, all pre-application reviews, development permits, laneway and carriage house applications or any other major project with construction occurring within 4m of any protected tree's critical root zone (DBHx6). The requirement for an arborist report may be waived if the lot has three or fewer protected trees (no specimen size) and the complexity of the project will have minimal impact on protected trees.
For tree removals an arborist report is needed if there are concerns about root encroachment, decay, disease, structural weaknesses, etc. If the tree is a standing dead tree then no report is need. In these situations we accept printed colour photos of the tree with your application.
1) To apply for a tree removal permit please go to our new Permit Guide. Only complete applications will be accepted for review.
Tree removal applications have a $75 application fee unless you are a Resident Applicant with a hazard tree. Critical Root Zone Work Authorizations (CRZWA) and No Tree Declarations do not have an application fee.
2) Once a complete application is received, they are reviewed based on application date not scope or value of project. The time it takes to review then approve a tree permit varies greatly. It can depend on time of year, complexity of the project as well as staffing levels.
3) A City Arborist will conduct a site visit to confirm all information supplied in the application. They will be in contact with the applicant if they have any further questions or need supporting documents.
4) The application will be approved or rejected
5) Removal approval:
a) Replacement tree plan must be in place
b) Authorized Agent or Homeowner must come to City Hall to pay fees and securities as well as sign permit and conditions
c) Replacement trees must be planted within 6 months of permit issuance.
If a project is a new dwelling, the final building permit will not be issued until your replacement trees have been planted. Replacement trees are now included as part of the building inspectors final checklist. Project arborist must submit a memo to email@example.com including the species, location, a photo, and outline proper planting procedures for each replacement tree.
d) 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.
e) Project Arborist must approve replacement tree plans prior to planting. The memo/report including photos, location, and species may be submitted to
f) 40% of replacement tree securities are refunded once confirmation of trees being planted. The remaining 60% is released after the one year maintenance period and a follow up report sent to
6) Critical Root Zone Worth Authorization (CRZWA) Approval:
a) Project Arborist must approve tree protection barriers then submit a corresponding memo/report to
b) Authorized Agent or Homeowner must come to City Hall to pay and sign permit and conditions.
c) Tree Protection Barriers must remain in place in accordance with bylaw until City Arborist gives final approval. Only after this may the fences come down.
d) If work must be performed inside the tree protection barrier Project Arborist must be on site to supervise work.
e) Final building inspection won't be issued until we receive a memo from Project Arborist stating the current health and vigour of all retained trees
f) Retained tree securities are refunded after the owner has received the final building permit.
7) No Tree Applications:
a) City Arborist to review application
b) Site visit may need to occur.
c) Once no impact to trees has been determined either by a site visit or photos and street view you will be notified via email or phone to come to City Hall to pick up and sign permit.
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 or call 604-636-4318.
- To read all the changes to the Tree Bylaw please read the amended Tree Bylaw No. 7099
The Tree Bylaw review process brought to light the need for two separate applicant streams. We needed to create a less financially taxing way for single family homeowners who are undertaking minor improvements to their homes or removing a hazardous tree. The Resident Applicant category is the result of those discussions.
Resident Applicant: means a person who is both an owner and a resident of the lot who applies for a permit under the tree bylaw to cut or remove one or more trees on the lot for the purpose of:
- Removing a hazardous tree
- Constructing an addition or alteration to and existing dwelling; or
- Constructing an accessory building that is NOT a dwelling
Resident Applicant Fees & Securities:
- There is no longer an application fee or permit fee for the removal of a hazardous tree
- Replacement tree securities have been reduced and now have a maximum limit
- 40% of replacement tree securities will be refunded once the trees have been planted and the remaining 60% returned at the end of the one year maintenance period.
- Arborist report requirement may be waived if the lot contains three or fewer protected trees with zero specimen trees (DBH >60cm) and the proposed work on the lot is considered not to be complex with minimal impact to trees.
- Tree protection barrier reports may be waived if:
- The Resident Applicant requests that the City Arborist conduct a tree protection barrier inspection and agrees to the associated fees
- Costs: $75 for the initial barrier inspection and $10 for each additional barrier
- $75 for re-inspections if the barriers fail the initial inspection