Proposed citywide Private Tree Bylaw information and engagement sessions

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

August 5th, 2019



The City wants to engage residents on the development of a citywide Private Tree Bylaw. The pilot project, which is currently underway within the Roseland community, will be reviewed.

Public sessions will be held throughout the city with the goal of informing and gathering feedback on the potential implementation of a Private Tree Bylaw citywide.

Earlier in the year, two information sessions were held to discuss the Pilot Private Tree Bylaw within the Roseland community.

An online survey is available at until August 26, 2019 for those unable to come to one of the information sessions.


Roseland – where the value of high end homes are threatened by ageing trees.

Citizen Action Lab – Citywide Private Tree Bylaw Engagement
Citizen Action Labs are where people work together in small, welcoming groups to engage, discuss, share and explore new ideas.

Appleby Village - trees on Pineland

Gorgeous trees – cut down because geese were eating the apples and the church next door didn’t like the Canada geese fouling the parking lot.

Residents are encouraged to come to any one of the three sessions planned:

• Saturday, August 24, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Mountainside Recreation Centre Rm 2, 2205 Mt Forest Dr.
• Monday, August 26, 1 to 4 p.m. at Royal Botanical Gardens, Auditorium Rm B.
• Thursday, August 29, 7 to 9 p.m. at Tansley Woods Community Centre Rm 1&2, 1996 Itabashi Way

Businesses such as landscapers, pool companies, homebuilders, general contractors and tree companies are also encouraged to come and learn and provide feedback about the bylaw.

About the Private Tree Bylaw
No person can injure, destroy, cause or permit the injury or destruction of a tree with a diameter of 30cm or greater or of a tree of significance (historic or rare).

To read the full Pilot Private Tree bylaw currently in effect in the Roseland community, including information on permits, exemptions and fines, visit

Belvenia trees-1024x768

Belvenia – probably the most beautifully treed street in the city.

Examples of exemptions include:
Trees with a diameter of less than 30cm

For the purpose of pruning in accordance with Good Arboricultural Practices

For emergency work
If the tree has a high or extreme likelihood of failure and impact as verified or confirmed by an Arborist or the Manager
If the tree is dead, as confirmed by the Manager of Urban Forestry, or designate
If the tree is an ash tree (due to the Emerald Ash Borer), as confirmed by the Manager of Urban Forestry, or designate
If a tree is within two metres of an occupied building

For more exemptions, visit

A person wanting to remove a tree with a diameter larger than 30 cm or of significance can apply for a permit online by visiting

Minimum fine is $500. Maximum fine is $100,000.
Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive. Sign up to learn more about Burlington at and download the free City of Burlington app.

Meed Ward H&S

Mayor Meed Ward “…completely supportive of extending the Private Tree Bylaw.”

The Goldring city councils just could not get their heads around the need for a private tree by-law – it took them forever to get a by law in place on a pilot basis in the Roseland community.  Mayor Meed Ward elected in October made it very clear where she stood.

“I am completely supportive of extending the Private Tree Bylaw, currently underway as a pilot program in Roseland, across our City. I have repeatedly said protecting Burlington’s tree canopy is one of my goals as Mayor because they’re a valuable resource we need to preserve.

“We’re at a crucial point in our City and the time to act is now. Making sure we examine things through a climate emergency-lens, this bylaw makes sense and is needed. It is a realistic and achievable action that we, as a City and as citizens, can do to protect our environment, health and well-being, and help minimize the effects of climate change.”

When city staff went along with a resident’s request to take down a tree so that a drive could be built on a property that was getting a new house built there were just two people who opposed the idea: the ward Councillor and the Mayor – suggesting that this council may not be as supportive of a city wide private tree by law as the Mayor.

Steve Robinson, Manager of Urban Forestry explains that:  “Ninety per cent of the City’s urban forest is located on private property. By creating legislation like the Private Tree Bylaw, these assets can be protected as valued parts of our green infrastructure, while they continue to help reduce the effects of climate change. As a community, we must evaluate the feasibility of a bylaw of this magnitude as it has implications to individual residents, but has the potential to yield tremendous results to benefit the community.”

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25 comments to Proposed citywide Private Tree Bylaw information and engagement sessions

  • Alfred

    David and Philip. Keeping this friendly and in fun. I would encourage you to use Google earth and check out the image of a development in Oakville which was recently built. It is a residential development and it is on Rebecca St. Between Tudor and Dorval. Oakville has had a Tree by-law in place for some time now. If you can find a tree in that subdivision let me know. Philip if you think for a second that the City can stop large developments like this from happening. With a silly tree-bylaw think again. Intensification and efficient development rule. It’s late or I would show you many more.

  • david barker



    I really thought we both had had our last words. And I thought I was stubborn!

    Please take your own advice and read 3 times before opening your mouth or writing. Please also take the time to read the bylaw in its entirety.

    Currently, as I previously described, individuals or corporations may take down any tree they wish. However, once a construction application is made to the City neither may cut a tree without City permission.

    You have referred to exclusions (J) & (K) to bylaw as if each allows a developer carte blanche to cut trees. Both exclusions to the bylaw only allow the trees to be cut “where the removal of the Tree is for the purpose of satisfying conditions to the approval of a site plan, a plan of subdivision, or consent under sections 41, 51 or 53 of the Planning Act, or as a requirement ofa site plan or subdivision agreement entered into under those sections of the Act; OR where the Injury or removal of the Tree is for the purpose of satisfying a condition to a development permit authorized by regulation made under section 70.2 of the Planning Act, as a requirement of an agreement entered into under the regulation”.

    Tough question for you now. Ready ? OK. From whom does the owner/developer have to obtain approval or a permit in those instances under the Planning Act ? Alright, I’ll tell you. The City !

    So the bylaw applies just as much to developers both before applying with a construction plan and after application.

    Now as respects your comment regarding how closely houses are built together in new subdivisions. I totally agree with you. In my opinion they are way too close together. But this has absolutely nothing to do with the tree bylaw. It has to do with minimum “setbacks” which via bylaw are mandated by the City. The required minimum setbacks are the same for everyone EXCEPT should the owner/developer appeal to and get exception from LPAT.

    It seems you are advocating putting tougher minimum setback requirements in place. That, you understand, would be putting a restriction on what a property owner (including a developer owner) can do on his property. And yet you are fighting against the City being able to place a similar type of restriction (tree bylaw) on an owner.

    It seems you want it both ways so long as it is convenient to you.

    The destruction of mature trees by way of clear cutting to make way for new subdivisions might be prevented by this bylaw. The bylaw certainly will not aid anyone in cutting down mature trees.

    Lastly, you seem to imply that the proposed bylaw will not apply to North Burlington. It will apply Burlington wide; north, south, east and west.

    I suggest this conversation has run its course.



  • Alfred

    David. Please read twice, then think twice and write once. The large developers are exempt from the tree cutting by-law. The Provincial Liberals made sure of it. These are your words not mine.The proposed by-law reads 5.2 The provisions of this by-law do not apply to the injury or destruction of trees Paragraph J. where the removal of the Trees is for the purpose of satisfying conditions to the approval of a site plan, a plan of subdivision, or consent (severance) under sec.41, 51 or 53 of the Planning Act, or as a requirement of a site plan or subdivision agreement entered into under those sections of the Act: Please drive to the new subdivisions in North Burlington or anywhere else were they have symbolic do nothing Tree by laws as the one proposed here in Burlington and you will see what I mean. Not only are they exempt from cutting trees they are building houses so close together and on tiny lots that no tree can ever be planted there. I am never off base the large developers will do as they please, as always. The family that wants to do an addition to their home or put in a pool for his family. Are the ones that pay the price. Your are the one that said that very few people will be affected, that means very few trees would be lost why bother with a by-law at all now that it looks like the evil developers are exempt. Your suggestion that developers were the only ones negatively affected appears to be slightly compromised. Read on my friend there are more secrets buried in the by-law. See if you or anyone else can find them. You may want to look up the staff arborist report from 3 years ago that appears to have been deliberately buried which concluded at tree by-law was not required due to the small amount of trees being removed. Also remember that approx. 8 trees have to get cut down to build 1 house. Soon you will be able to build up to 18 floors out of wood. People a lot smarter than me came up with these rules. Get over it. We live in the greatest city in Canada again #1 without a tree by-law that does nothing.

  • david barker

    I agree with you as to belabouring the point. So this is my last word too.

    Actually over the 26 years I have lived on Lakeshore here in Burlington I have had extensive interaction with the City’s aborists. Both on the City’s boulevard and on my property there are many 250+ year old trees. There are also many trees that are on the protected species listing in the bylaw. So I believe I can say with honesty and justification that I am likely going to be way more affected by this bylaw than you. But I am all fire its introduction.

    Do you appreciate what a 30cm diameter tree looks like? A tree with a 30cm diameter trunk will have a 95cm trunk circumference. 95cm = 39.50inches. I believe I’m right in saying if that tree was a pine it would mean it is about 65 years old. And that’s based upon the threshold point at
    which the bylaw has an affect.

    Anything below 30cm diameter (94cm circumference) you are free to hack at as much as you feel you need to!

    Please attend one of the engagement meetings, express your concerns and listen to others speaking up; and of course to the council members. In my dealings with the new refreshingly approachable and citizen focused members of council I have found each and every one to be honest, straight forward.

    I hope to see you at the RBG meeting

  • david barker

    @PhilipWooster. I appoligize if you feel I have belittled anyone. That’s never my intent. I do not consider the use of verbs such as whining or bleeding as belittling but rather as being accurately descriptive.

    I have done further research regarding the pruning of limbs of City owned trees that overhang private property. I have spoken to the department at the City responsible. You are correct unlike limbs from a neighbour’s tree that overhangs your property where you have a right to cut any part of that tree overhanging your property, a citizen may not cut the limb of a City owned tree. That situation seems strange and wrong, but as you correctly described it it the way things are. The City if contacted will, provided the action will not adversely affect the health of the tree, commit to cutting back the offending limb within a four week period.

    Having admitted my mistake I do have to correct you. You state, I assume refering to the proposed bylaw, ” Private property owners now have to get permission from Big Sister to touch their trees”.

    The proposed bylaw reads:-

    “5.2 The provisions of this by-law do not apply to the injury or destruction of Trees:

    (a) with a Diameter at Breast Height of less than 30cm;
    (b) for the purpose of pruning in accordance with Good Arboricultural Practices;
    (c) for Emergency Work;
    (d) if the Tree has a high or extreme likelihood of failure and impact as verified or
    confirmed by an Arborist or by the Manager;
    (e) if the tree is dead, as confirmed by an Arborist or by the Manager;
    (f) if the tree is an ash (Fraxinus sp.), as confirmed by an Arborist or by the
    (g) if a Tree is within 2m of an occupied building (measurement from the edge of
    the building to the centre of the Tree at dbh);
    (h) if the Tree is located in a Nursery or Orchard;
    (i) where the Injury or destruction of the Tree is done by a person licensed under
    the Surveyors Act to engage in the practice of cadastral surveying or his or her
    agent, while making a survey;
    (j) where the removal of the Tree is for the purpose of satisfying conditions to the
    approval of a site plan, a plan of subdivision, or consent under sections 41, 51
    or 53 of the Planning Act, or as a requirement of a site plan or subdivision
    agreement entered into under those sections of the Act;
    (k) where the Injury or removal of the Tree is for the purpose of satisfying a
    condition to a development permit authorized by regulation made under section
    70.2 of the Planning Act, as a requirement of an agreement entered into under
    the regulation;
    (l) where the Tree is by a transmitter or distributor as defined in the Electricity Act
    1998 and the Injury or removal of the Tree is for the purpose of constructing
    and maintaining a transmission system or a distribution system as defined
    under that Act; or
    (m)where the removal of a Tree is specifically required in an order made under the
    City’s Property Standards by-law.

    I suggest (a) and (b) above provide the citizen with ample latitude to manage privately owned trees on or encroaching upon their property. A permit is only required where the work to be undertaken on a tree does not fall within (a) to (m).

    In response to your comment “if this is largely a development problem as you suggest, why not deal with the developers rather than inflicting this bylaw on everyone” you mistakenly assume only corporate entities fall within the term “developers”. Any person, including a property owner such as you and me can develop an owned property. The problem that presently exists (without the tree bylaw) is that a property owner (individual or corporate) may cut any and all trees on the property without restriction. A developer (individual or corporate) is only required to seek a permit to cut trees on the property once a building application is submitted to the City. So what happens is the owner of the lot cuts down trees as it pleases before it submits it’s building application. In doing so the owner does not break any bylaws.

    Please take the time to attend one of the engagement sessions to raise your concerns and to get a clear understanding of what is being proposed.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Not to belabor this too much, the City has been out to see my tree–three times. Three times I’ve been told cutting back the limbs “will endanger the tree”–this has become the default excuse to do nothing! And my great fear is this will be extended under the private tree bylaw. Having not dealt with them before directly, David, you have no idea what ardent zealots you are dealing with. It’s so bad that earlier this summer–in anticipation of the extension of this bylaw, I had a tree surgeon undertake massive work on my property, although no trees were removed. He indicated to me that I was not the only one taking this action.

  • david barker

    Bonnie. Thank you for those kind words.

  • david barker

    Alfred. Well you are pretty conspicuous up there on that grassy knoll of conspiracy theories! It seems you are saying, not only am I wrong (absolutely possible) as respects global warming and the positive effect a healthy tree canopy can have on our environment, but so are all the scientists; and only you are right. Regrettably your discussion points have lost contact with reality & logic, so there is really no point in continuing this discussion. So in closing:-

    The 5% of course deserve serious consideration, but at the end of the day one has to do what is best for the 95%.

    I note you did not answer the question “How many trees did you cut down or have cut down on your property over the past 12 months ?”. I suspect the answer is a big fat zero. And that’s the important point here.

    You are bleeding about something that will have negligible impact on you on a day to day basis. Philip Wooster is whining about a limb from a city owned tree overhanging his driveway. He wants the City to cut it. He has the right to cut any limb overhanging his property but is pouting and won’t do it himself. The cutting of that limb has nothing to do with the proposed bylaw.

    This bylaw will have no day to day practical impact over the course of a year on I would guestimate 99% of Burlington citizens. Citizens will be able to continue to prune and tend to their trees. The section of our society that will be directly impacted on a day to day basis is the developer community.

    Stop the whining and bleeding and look at the proposed bylaw in the context of whether it has a practical impact on you and your freedoms on a day to day basis.

    • Phillip Wooster

      David, sorry you choose to belittle others who don’t share your viewpoint. Sad really! But your own rant contains major inaccuracies–first of all, I DO NOT have the right to touch a CITY tree (perhaps some research would help–try City Hall to learn the truth); if I did, the limbs would have been removed long ago! My experience with the tree has EVERYTHING to do with the proposed by-law–the same zealots who enforce the current bylaw with respect to City trees will now have their power extended to private property; the result will be the same disregard for residents, trees are everything. Private property owners now have to get permission from Big Sister to touch their trees–good luck with that!!!! And lastly. if this is largely a development problem as you suggest, why not deal with the developers rather than inflicting this bylaw on everyone–the reason–pure ideology–Big Sister knows best!!!

  • Alfred

    David. Let’s see how far off base I am?. 12 Feb 2019 article CBC. Canada forests emit more carbon than they absorb..Aug. 2018 article. Earth has more trees than it did 35 years ago. 24 June 2019 article Scientists zero in on trees as a major cause of methane gas. Canada has the 4th largest number of trees per Capita. Right behind these economic powerhouses. Suriname. Gabon.Guyana. Who’s total GDP. is equal to the Toronto Raptors salary. Ontario is the most heavily treed province in Canada. Canada has the 2nd largest number of trees in the world. There are 3.5 Trillion trees worldwide. Interestingly enough, many countries worldwide have very few trees. The people appear to be doing fine there. At the end of the day, you nor the Mayor have any idea about what affects our climate or how. One day it’s Global cooling then global warming then climate change.It appears the scientists know even less. It has been discovered in an article 4 Sept 2015 that the number of trees on Earth is substantially higher than what previously lying scientists had indicated to the unsuspecting suckers. As a final note any tree that is planted in this City should be paid for by all the citizens. As according to you they all benefit and it is the interest of all of us. Plant trees, if we must. Leave the property owners alone. Stop wasting peoples time with these silly “do nothing: by-laws. Your concern or lack there of for the 5% of the citizens affected. Speaks volumes. Anyone that plants a tree on their property. Then has to go beg hat in hand. To have it removed and pay a tree tax is clearly a fool. To add a bit of truth to your doom and gloom forecast. May I suggest you and the Mayor provide documented proof that the air quality is better in areas with a tree by-law. Oakville will be a good example. Good luck.

  • Bonnie

    David, thank you for your thoughtful response to the issues around the Private Tree Bylaw. This is the type of response that should be posted on the City Facebook and Twitter pages. Please continue to defend this important issue.

  • david barker

    Alfred, in my view you are so far off base.

    You should be applauding the Mayor and the entire council for taking a stand to protect the mature tree canopy we have in the city. The proposed bylaw is just one small element of an action plan we as a city, we as a country, we as the world must take to curtail rising temperatures. Give credit for the leadership position taken by the Mayor and this new council.

    Planting more trees is certainly a must. But those trees will take at least another 25 to 50 years to mature to the heights, grandeur and purposefulness of existing mature trees. We need to protect what we have. Weather patterns are changing because of what we as a people have done to the world in developed areas. We need to maintain what is left and then enhance it with the planting of new growth.

    The bylaw will not stop necessary cutting. So if you do have a tree starting to grow in your livingroom, I’m sure you will be able to remove it. Though some might think having the first 50 feet of a majestic oak or catalpa integrated into their house would be rather cool.

    “Stand up for your property rights” you say. I am with you there. But as discussed with Philip here, there are times when the rights and interests of society override the rights and interests of the individual. We already see this through the application of property line setbacks, building height limits, noise and nuisance, prohibition on the hanging of laundry outside etc.

    The world from a climate perspective is at a tipping point. The proposed bylaw will likely not affect, in my estimation, even 5% of Burlington citizens. Pruning and maintenance of trees is not affected at all. What is affected is the destruction of healthy trees for cosmetic or development reasons. It is intended to stop the needless destruction of 30+ healthy mature trees to clear cut a site for development, or the cutting down of a very mature tree to facilitate the payment installation of a driveway, when other solutions were available. Yes it may cause inconvenience or downright frustration, but like so many other issues, e.g. national/provincial debt, do we want to screw things up so bad our kids will not be able to enjoy their lives.

    One last thing, Alfred. How many trees did you cut down or have cut down on your property over the past 12 months ?

  • Alfred

    Ethiopia planted 353 million trees in 1 day. Yes! absolutely incredible. These poor folks barely have enough to eat. We are one of the richest jurisdictions in the world and this is the best our Mayor can do? Have a symbolic Tree- by-law that saves a couple of hundred trees a year in a City with 4 million trees We are at a crucial point looking through a climate emergency lens? This Mayor seems to enjoy these doom and gloom scenarios. In her world looking good is better than doing good. What was not disclosed is that some trees that can be cut down now will not be able to be cut even if they will be sitting in the dining room of your newly built home..If you don’t stand up for your property rights you don’t deserve them. Planting lots of trees is the answer not restrictive By-laws. That give people incentive not to plant trees. Bring over a few Ethiopians to show us how its done. A heart felt thanks to you folks for thinking first then acting wisely. By the way Canada has approx 318 Billion trees.not exactly an emergency as described by our Mayor.

  • david barker

    First off, maybe someone can help me. I don’t know how to get my response into a chain like you have done, Philip. Maybe you can educate me on that.

    If you have better things to do with your time that attend an engagement meeting it would suggest the tree bylaw is way down your list of important matters. As I tell my grown children, if you don’t vote, you give up the right to moan and complain at what a govt does.

    As to the tree limb, if it is over your property, just as with a neighbour’s tree, do you not have the right to cut it yourself?

    Say this was a tree located on your neighbour’s property and there was a limb inconveniently growing over your property, would you expect the neighbour to come over and cut it ?

    • Phillip Wooster

      David, you just don’t get it! First, the tree by-law is very important to me and so is my time. The reality is that these public engagement meetings are just for show—so the politicians can say we got community imput. These meetings will have no consequence; MeedWard and Stolte already have the bylaw done–nothing you say or I say will change that. They have their agenda and residents don’t count.

      Secondly, the bureaucracy runs this town. The politicians have NO impact on how they operate. If this was my neighbours tree, I would talk to my neighbour and reach a compromise. Neighbours generally listen and help each other–at least on my street they do. But this is a City tree–only they can touch it and they REFUSE to do anything. With the private tree bylaw, this problem will now be extended to all trees–residents don’t count in Burlington.

  • david barker

    @PhilipWooster. If you do not participate you have little chance of being heard.

    For your information the UK, France, Canada and Ireland have all formally recognised a climate crisis and declared a climate emergency. The UK position was led by Theresa May AND supported by Virus Johnson. Hardly a pair of wimpy, sissy Liberals.

    Now come on, what was the issue with the tree limb ? You raised it as an example of city overreach. Please explain.

    • Phillip Wooster

      First of all, David, I was dealing with our own country–Canada–and I could have sworn that was a Liberal government, although to be fair, the Liberal Party has shifted so far to the left that they are no longer the old centrist party of the past (however, that’s a debate for another day).

      As for my tree, had you read carefully, I did not raise it as an issue of overreach. I raised it as an example of how the tree zealots at City Hall have no interest in compromise–their sole focus is trees, trees, trees irrespective of how much they negatively impact people living around them. This of course has major implications of how the tree by-law will be enforced. In the specific instance, a flowering linden–a garbage generating tree for about 12 weeks, was not only planted next to my driveway many years ago but also too close to the adjacent maple tree. The result is that the linden has compensated with excessive growth to the open side—over my driveway. All of this was caused by the City who just walk away and refuse to consider pruning.
      Will this be how the bylaw will be enforced on private property?

    • Phillip Wooster

      Sorry, David, I missed your first line. I have NO chance of being listened to–the ideologues at City Hall will hear me and then just do what they want to do–I have better things to do.

  • david barker

    @Philip Wooster. I do understand your comments. And you are right this is a case of the public interests overrides that of the appreciate you don’t feel that should be the case. I suggest you make your feelings known through the engagement process the City has initiated. You can be sure people like me in the other side if the discussion to you will be advocating. Do not stay silent if you want to be heard!

    I do ask though that you not position this as being a Liberal climate emergency thing. Few now doubt the presence of global warming and that we are at a critical juncture. I draw your attention to the UK government, which is definitely right of centre, has also recently recognized there is a climate emergency and declared as such. Did you not see the news reports showing how the European heatwave when it reached Greenland turned ice fields into raging rivers. Millions of tons of ice melted in a matter of hours. The tree bylaw is just a small but important step towards arresting warming.

    It would be helpful to understand more clearly the “tree limb” issue you mentioned. Would you please elaborate on what happened, and what you wanted to do or have done by the City. It’s important readers understand the issue.

    • Phillip Wooster

      I won’t waste my time with the “dog-and-pony-show” that is this public engagement process. Stolte is already on record as saying the bylaw would be extended city-wide. This is just window dressing.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Why wouldn’t you characterize this as a Liberal climate emergency? They introduced it in the House of Commons and voted for the declaration. I should add of course that Trudeau say it as such an emergency that he FLEW to Toronto the same day to attend a Raptors victory parade; later he flew to BC to go surfing–surfing emergency YES, climate emergency-NOT SO MUCH. Of course, if they say it loudly and repeat it often enough, Canadians will totally believe it. As for City Council’s declaration, all but possibly one are left of centre with MeedWard being a Liberal–she is “passively” helping her Liberal pal win the election. First a declaration, then a grant of federal money (surprise!), then a speaking engagement by the Environment Minister in Burlington. Is the climate changing–most certainly–with 8 billion people on the planet we are outstripping the ability of the resource base and the environment to support such overpopulation–but no one wants to talk about this elephant in the room. Anything else we do is just “p*ssing in the wind”.

  • Phillip Wooster

    The case mentionned in the article–wanted to build a new home and needed permission to cut down a tree, illustrates the fundamental problem with the tree bylaw. The homeowner promised tree planting to offset the tree that was cut down and yet, Stolte and MeedWard still opposed it–no compromise! I have personally experienced the same problem with a City tree in front of my property–negligently planted & an ongoing mess all summer, I had asked for a limb overhanging my driveway to be removed. Again, NO COMPROMISE–the City made the mess but leaves it for someone else to deal with. Both of these cases illustrate that to the City, trees are far more important than people and their Liberal climate emergency (ideology) trumps any other rational consideration.

    This bylaw is legal overreach into the rights of private property–in my time living in South Burlington, I have rarely see a tree cut down. People value the trees on their property; the trees add value. While the bylaw seems to allow some flexibility to residents being able to prune and manage the trees on their property, the zealots at City Hall get to decide what happens. In my experience, these zealots use little common sense and are ideologically driven.

  • david barker

    I am all for having a bylaw that protects trees throughout the city. I have a number of trees whose ages are estimated at over 150 years. Yes, the trees are on my property and so I have ownership, but with ownership comes a social responsibility to nurture them so the benefit & enjoyment they bring can accrue to present and future generations.

    I hear the argument put forward “this is my property, why should the City or anyone else tell me what I can or cannot do with it?”.That is an understandable position. I have those thoughts too. I’m sure everyone has those thoughts.

    Well how do you think you would react if your neighbour was to erect a tree house that was 50′ above the ground and allowed sight right into your house? Or what about if your neighbour never cut their grass or tended to any bushes or other growth? Or what about if your neighbour was to build right up against the property line to a height that deprives your property of light? These are all instances where the City controls what you can do on your property. Instances where the rights of and benefit to society override the rights of the individual. A tree Bylaw would just be another such instance.

    The range of a possible fine is as shown in this column; namely a fine in the range of $500 to $100,000. The fine is applicable “per offence”. I did not see any reference in the bylaw that defines the word “offence”. A $500 fine will not deter a developer from clear cutting a property. Nor will a fine of $100,000. If however an “offence” was to be defined as an act against single tree, then the developer who cut down 30+ trees on its lot on New St would have faced a possible maximum fine in excess of $3,000,000. That amount may be too high, but $100,000 us too low. How about fines in a range of $1,000 to $100,000 per offence (read tree), subject to a maximum of $1,000,000 for all offences committed on the same day.

    If we are going to implement a citywide bylaw let’s get serious and have a range in fines that will make both the individual citizen property owner and the developer think twice before taking down or damaging a protected tree.

    As a play on the DIY mantra of measure twice cut once, let’s have ” THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU CUT”

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