Proposed Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw Changes

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7415, 2015 (“the tree bylaw”) prohibits the cutting or damaging of trees without a permit, regulates the tree cutting permit process, and sets out requirements for the replacement of cut trees. This bylaw was most recently amended in 2016.

At the May 11, 2020 Regular Meeting, an Urban Forest Strategy and action plan was adopted by Delta Council, together with the following resolution:

THAT staff report back on options to amend Delta’s Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7415 to increase the level of protection for significant trees within the City and ensure the appropriate amount of compensation is provided when tree removal is necessary.

We are updating the tree bylaw to respond to this direction from Mayor & Council. To ensure that proposed updates to the tree bylaw are in line with current and progressive practices, staff recently undertook a review of tree bylaws of municipalities in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. Based on this review, as well as recent comments from the public and Mayor & Council, staff recommend amendments to the tree bylaw as described below.

Proposed Changes

  1. Tree cutting permit fees
    • We are proposing to increase the fees
  2. New tree categories: Large Diameter Tree and Significant Tree
    • We are proposing extra protection for trees with a trunk diameter of 50 cm or more and for trees designated as 'significant'
  3. Single tree cutting allowance
    • We are proposing to require tree cutting permit fees and replacement trees for all trees cut, unless they pose a safety risk
  4. Permits for pruning
    • We are proposing special requirements for pruning of large (50+ cm) trees and significant trees
  5. Penalties
    • We are proposing higher penalties for illegal tree cutting
  6. Tree replacement
    • We are proposing more and larger replacement trees when larger trees are cut
  7. Tree security/cash-in-lieu
    • We are proposing a higher amount for tree security and cash-in-lieu of tree replacement

Delta’s tree bylaw is a complex document. To help people understand the bylaw, we are going to prepare a simplified interpretation guide, possibly in the form of bulletins or Frequently Asked Questions, to be posted on the City’s website with the revised tree bylaw.

Want to learn more about the proposed changes to Delta's Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw? Visit delta.ca/treebylawchanges.


Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7415, 2015 (“the tree bylaw”) prohibits the cutting or damaging of trees without a permit, regulates the tree cutting permit process, and sets out requirements for the replacement of cut trees. This bylaw was most recently amended in 2016.

At the May 11, 2020 Regular Meeting, an Urban Forest Strategy and action plan was adopted by Delta Council, together with the following resolution:

THAT staff report back on options to amend Delta’s Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw No. 7415 to increase the level of protection for significant trees within the City and ensure the appropriate amount of compensation is provided when tree removal is necessary.

We are updating the tree bylaw to respond to this direction from Mayor & Council. To ensure that proposed updates to the tree bylaw are in line with current and progressive practices, staff recently undertook a review of tree bylaws of municipalities in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. Based on this review, as well as recent comments from the public and Mayor & Council, staff recommend amendments to the tree bylaw as described below.

Proposed Changes

  1. Tree cutting permit fees
    • We are proposing to increase the fees
  2. New tree categories: Large Diameter Tree and Significant Tree
    • We are proposing extra protection for trees with a trunk diameter of 50 cm or more and for trees designated as 'significant'
  3. Single tree cutting allowance
    • We are proposing to require tree cutting permit fees and replacement trees for all trees cut, unless they pose a safety risk
  4. Permits for pruning
    • We are proposing special requirements for pruning of large (50+ cm) trees and significant trees
  5. Penalties
    • We are proposing higher penalties for illegal tree cutting
  6. Tree replacement
    • We are proposing more and larger replacement trees when larger trees are cut
  7. Tree security/cash-in-lieu
    • We are proposing a higher amount for tree security and cash-in-lieu of tree replacement

Delta’s tree bylaw is a complex document. To help people understand the bylaw, we are going to prepare a simplified interpretation guide, possibly in the form of bulletins or Frequently Asked Questions, to be posted on the City’s website with the revised tree bylaw.

Want to learn more about the proposed changes to Delta's Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw? Visit delta.ca/treebylawchanges.


CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Please take the survey to give us your feedback on the proposed changes to Delta's Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw. You can learn more about the proposed changes at delta.ca/treebylawamendmentsIf you have questions about the proposed changes, please ask them here and the project manager will respond to you!

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Having to have an arborist to ok pruning for a tree over 50cm and then pay for pruning is a cash grab. I have had a tree pruned to 1, make sure it does not infringe on neighbours and 2. To keep tree healthy, the tree is beautiful. To now tell me I need an arborist means I will simply not prune the tree. The city needs to be more flexible in the area of tree pruning. If the individual pruning has been trained to prune properly that should be enough. I will not adhere to this cash grab when it’s not necessary, 40 yr resident of ND

    Costaf asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. They will receive due consideration as we review feedback from the community.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    More a comment than a question: Most pruning occurs when there appears to be a danger to the homeowner, neighbour or citizens as it is quite costly to do so. It appears there really is no basis to charge a permit fee when a homeowner is merely maintaining the health of the trees. Thus to me it appears to more of a cash grab than a necessity. If it is a cash grab, then label it as such and just add a standard "tax" onto everyone's property tax and stop "hiding" your intentions.

    EFactor asked 6 months ago

    For Large Diameter Trees (50+ cm), we are proposing that a Certified Arborist carry out the pruning. No tree cutting permit would be required. We are proposing that the arborist contact the City to explain the purpose for the pruning.

    For Significant Trees, we are proposing that a Certified Arborist carry out the pruning, and that an arborist report and tree cutting permit (no permit fee) be required.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How will you determine whether a significant size tree is dangerous? Arborists views differ and it can be difficult to determine. We had a cedar fall in last year's storm that had been inspected regularly by a reputable arborist, and that looked healthy. It fell flat (uprooted) in a wind storm probably because it was no longer shielded by surrounding trees, since most neighbours have cut down the majority of their trees over the last 20 years. We have other mature trees in our yard that could do the same; maybe they will fall on our house. When new homes are built closer to lot lines, there is often friction over neighbours' trees. A failed rezoning attempt some years ago led to the clearance of 11 mature conifers adjacent to our property, including ones the City had determined would not be cut. One of our trees, as specifically predicted by the arborist, partially fell soon afterwards. I am not sure the proposed changes would have helped protect our trees in either of these situations as it would need a lot of staff and arborist time and coordination to check on individual properties and developments (a department staff member had specifically told us the developer could not take down a specific tree that we then watched being felled a couple of days later, for example). We are now faced with losing trees for safety reasons even though we would like to protect them, and paying to compensate for them.

    TM asked 6 months ago

    It is recommended to obtain the opinion of a Certified Tree Risk Assessor to determine whether a tree is at risk of failure. However, it is true that healthy trees sometimes fall during severe windstorms and it may not be possible for an arborist (or a tree risk assessor) to predict this ahead of time.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    This is more a comment than a question. Trees grow, homeowners change; what one person likes another may not. I personally like sunshine and have a tree, which would be deemed a large diameter tree, that significantly blocks sun on my southwest facing windows and patio for the entire summer. This Sweetgum tree is quite a messy tree, dropping it's prickly seed pods constantly. I would never have chosen this tree to have in my yard. I would be quite happy to replace with something quite a bit smaller. Not all trees need to be big. Homeowners need to have a say in what and where trees on their property are situated. Pruning is a necessity to keeping trees from outgrowing their environment. I liken pruning to haircuts, required to keep things tidy. This bylaw is far too invasive of homeowners rights.

    jansalvador asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. They will receive due consideration as we review feedback from the community.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Reading these comments it's no surprise that some neighborhood blocks in Tsawwassen now look like real slums devoid of any trees or foliage at all and mostly cement and stone.  I think a lot of people who perhaps haven't traveled to other parts of the world don't realize how unsightly above ground power lines are and how the trees blur their appearance. I find it quite surprising that people would rather have their yards look like a gas station than have some beautiful fully mature trees.  It was once called Supernatural British Columbia, not Super average or Super manicured.  We have a lushness of natural beauty here that can't be found just anywhere and to level it down because you don't like to rake , or want more sunshine in your yard so you can crank your A/C up in the summer time is stupidity.  If you don't like trees Canada has lovely prairie provinces for you. I am in favor of having special tree exemptions and designations My question is, how is the validity of tree removal permits processed?  Not long after buying our home, I was approached by a so-called arborist from a very popular local tree cutting company, telling me that my neighbors did not like my large trees and I should have them look at them as they may be unsafe. Later I spoke to my neighbours and none of my neighbors spoke to this company, they were just looking to cut down a tree.  Concerned with the unsafe possibility I agreed they could look at them.  They then proceeded to climb my healthy trees with spikes which apparently I learned from properly trained arborists you don't do. Once they climbed the trees they promptly said they were rotten and needed to come down. I didn't want the trees to come down, the trees were why I bought the property, so I paid for two other certified arborists to come to my home.  Both said the trees were not rotten, they were fully healthy and began to inform me on the practices of unscrupulous so-called arborists who will tell people their trees are rotten just to cut them down as it's easy big money.  This tree company, not knowing that I had gotten other opinions, put in a half filled out tree permit in my mailbox just to speed along the process of my trees coming down. This company didn't even get the species of tree right on the application such was there lack of real arborist knowledge. Who is looking at the validity of these permit requests?  I imagine there are a lot of healthy trees that come down judging from my experience with this company and that I see them all over town taking trees down.  How does the district validate these permits?  How does one be sure that these healthy trees aren't coming down?  From my conversations with others around town, this tree company now has a reputation that if you want a tree to come down they're the ones to call and they'll just put in a permit that says the tree is rotten.   What kind of follow-up can the city do to be sure that these permits are valid for such things? Reading these comments it's no surprise that some neighborhood blocks in Tsawwassen now look like real slums devoid of any trees or foliage at all and mostly cement and stone.  I think a lot of people who perhaps haven't traveled to other parts of the world don't realize how unsightly above ground power lines are and how the trees blur their appearance. I find it quite surprising that people would rather have their yards look like a gas station than have some beautiful fully mature trees.  It was once called Supernatural British Columbia, not Super average or Super manicured.  We have a lushness of natural beauty here that can't be found just anywhere and to level it down because you don't like to rake , or more sunshine in your yard so you can crank your A?C up in the summer time is stupidity.  If you don't like trees Canada has lovely prairie provinces for you. I am in favor of having special tree exemptions and designations My question is, how is the validity of tree removal permits processed?  Not long after buying our home, I was approached by a so-called arborist from a very popular local tree cutting company, telling me that my neighbors did not like my large trees and I should have them look at them as they may be unsafe. Later I spoke to my neighbours and none of my neighbors spoke to this company, they were just looking to cut down a tree.  Concerned with the unsafe possibility I agreed they could look at them.  They then proceeded to climb my healthy trees with spikes which apparently I learned from properly trained arborists you don't do. Once they climbed the trees they promptly said they were rotten and needed to come down. I didn't want the trees to come down, the trees were why I bought the property, so I paid for two other certified arborists to come to my home.  Both said the trees were not rotten, they were fully healthy and began to inform me on the practices of unscrupulous so-called arborists who will tell people their trees are rotten just to cut them down as it's easy big money.  This tree company, not knowing that I had gotten other opinions, put in a half filled out tree permit in my mailbox just to speed along the process of my trees coming down. This company didn't even get the species of tree right on the application such was there lack of real arborist knowledge. Who is looking at the validity of these permit requests?  I imagine there are a lot of healthy trees that come down judging from my experience with this company and that I see them all over town taking trees down.  How does the district validate these permits?  How does one be sure that these healthy trees aren't coming down?  From my conversations with others around town, this tree company now has a reputation that if you want a tree to come down they're the ones to call and they'll just put in a permit that says the tree is rotten.   What kind of follow-up can the city do to be sure that these permits are valid for such things?

    NLN asked 6 months ago

    Tree cutting permits should be reviewed and signed by the property owner. The City is not responsible for ensuring that property owners hire a reputable arborist. If you have concerns about the activities of a company operating in Delta, please contact Bylaw Enforcement at 604-946-3340.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    I have a significant tree. A Sequoia Dendron Gigantean in my front yard. The city has placed a restrictive covenant on the land title for protection of the tree for its nature and its significant value to the community. This species is one of the worlds largest single tree and the largest living thing by volume. The tree has outgrown its original placement and will continue to do so in the foregoing future. To make it structurally safe and sound its root system would be very expansive and further undermine the foundation of my house and surroundings. Foreseeable maintenance would entail inspections/pruning/ cabling/ stabilization and even root barriers. Setting up root barriers would definitely stunt its stability. Just pruning would entail an arborist report his presence during the pruning as well as a pruning bill. If this huge tree feel without showing imminent danger of falling due to unforeseen circumstances what about removal and liability costs? Should the city not take up proprietorship of such significant trees in the community bearing its upkeep maintenance and relevant costs?

    Nicholas asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. They will receive due consideration as we review feedback from the community. The proposed bylaw changes would not affect the existing liabilities related to property damage or injury by trees located on public or private land. To learn more about restrictive covenants registered on title, please contact the Community Planning & Development Department at 604-946-3380. There are no changes proposed to the tree bylaw relating to restrictive covenants.

    We are proposing to require an arborist report to prune a Significant Tree, and that the pruning be carried out by an arborist. At present, there are no trees proposed to be designated Significant Trees. Trees protected by restrictive covenants would not necessarily be included in the list of Significant Trees in the tree bylaw. Staff will be reporting back to Council on options for creating the list of Significant Trees.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    The proposal is about protecting larger trees, what about the ecological value of small trees and shrubs in the community, they too provide habitat value. If a site is developed there should be no “net loss” of plant life. The onus should be on the property owner to maintain the entire green space. Too often we see mega homes fill lots to nearly the property boundary, diminishing the beauty of a street. I would like to see a more wholistic approach to maintaining habitat.

    Eric asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. They will receive due consideration as we review feedback from the community. We are attempting to balance the City's goals of increasing the urban tree canopy and enhancing biodiversity with the rights of individual property owners.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Sorry, second question that I forgot to ask previously. Q. There are only 4 ISA Certified Arborists in all of Delta with a Risk Assessment Qualification. There are 100,000 people in Delta. Realistically, how is that ever going to work if the new by-law requires all these new reports? Especially during busy/storm season and there is a risky tree that needs to be dealt with? How will timely decisions to manage risk be made? Does Delta expect homeowners to be forced into a situation where they have to take on potentially excessive risk as they wait weeks or months for a risk report before the risk is dealt with?

    Brian asked 6 months ago

    The current tree bylaw requires an arborist's opinion on whether a tree (or part of a tree) is deemed to be at risk of falling and causing injury. If tree work is required on an emergency basis, it can take place prior to providing an arborist report to the City. Proof of hazardous conditions (e.g. photos) should be provided to the City afterwards. We are not proposing to change this requirement. For more information on this process, please contact the Engineering Department at 604-946-3260.

    We are proposing to require an arborist report to prune a Significant Tree. At present, there are no trees proposed to be designated Significant Trees. Staff will be reporting back to Council on options for creating the list of Significant Trees. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Why should I have to pay a fee to cut down a tree less than (12” in diameter) that I have planted on my own property? I believe that there should be reasonable annual allowances.

    Chris asked 6 months ago

    Under the current tree bylaw, homeowners can cut down one tree on their property in 24 months. A Single Tree Replacement Fee of $100 is required. We are proposing to retain this allowance in the bylaw, but to require payment of tree cutting permit fees and provision of 1-2 replacement trees (depending on the size of tree cut). The Single Tree Replacement Fee would be cancelled. Your comments have been noted and will be given due consideration as we review feedback from the community.

    The tree bylaw does not apply to trees with a trunk diameter smaller than 20 cm (about 8 inches). We are not proposing to change this aspect of the bylaw.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    what can you do to increase my confidence that you will regularly assess the large forest trees on boulevards before they fall onto my home? I'd like to receive an annual report/summary of their health to know you are aware of them. I have 2 large forest trees on the boulevard with 1 leaning over heavily toward my home and it could easily go down in a windstorm. my neighbor also has a very large tree on his property that would cut my home in half if it falls... I'm not feeling safe with your plan to maintain these trees and it would make more sense for you to remove them before someone is hurt or their property is significantly damaged. I'd be happy to put in multiple replacement trees that are a more manageable size. removing these large forest trees is about $3500 or more - not so great for me on a retirement income.

    sally-anne asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. They will receive due consideration as we review feedback from the community. To report concerns about a tree on public property, please contact the Engineering Department at 604-946-3260.