Draft May 2021

by Marsha Conley


The District of North Saanich is updating its Tree Protection ByLaw. Residents may have received a postcard in the mail about this or an email from the District if they are signed up for North Saanich alerts. In case you haven’t received these, DPECA would like to provide you with more information and urge you to express your opinion.

Basic points include:

  1. The new Bylaw applies to all existing properties in North Saanich, not just to new residences or new developments.
  2. The new Bylaw (as drafted so far) includes changes regarding what owners of residential properties can do about pruning, modifying or removing trees on their private property.
  3. There may be new costs involved in getting permits for tree work and additional costs to pay for consulting arborists to file paperwork with the district before tree work can be undertaken. Such permits, fees and additional costs may be incurred by owners wanting permission to prune, modify or remove trees.
  4. In some cases, trees removed from a property would need to be replaced by district-specified tree species of district-specified size. More tree species are protected and cannot be removed unless they are a hazard certified by an arborist.
  5. Some owners have suggested that it might be appropriate to separate regulations for existing residential properties from those that apply to new developments or major redevelopment projects. This separation would allow the district to move forward with revised Tree Protection for new developments or major redevelopment projects promptly. Then, changes to the tree protection bylaw for existing properties later would allow for more community input and more direct consultations once COVID restrictions are eased.

DPECA has received input from residents, from other community groups, from several arborists and from Fire Smart BC representatives about the possible impact of the new bylaw.

  • Residents who are trying to comply with FireSmart BC recommendations have expressed concerns that the new Tree Protection Bylaw may NOT give home owners enough ability to prune or remove trees or foliage that might pose a fire risk to their dwellings.
  • Many homeowners in Dean Park Estates have allowed their trees to grow from small hedges to large trees that pose risks to their own dwelling and to their neighbors in windstorms and in the case of a wildfire. If residents believe that trees cannot be pruned and maintained under new bylaws, then even more trees will become future hazards and will need to be removed altogether.
  • Many neighbours have reached agreements on regular pruning to preserve each others’ views and these agreements may be impacted by the new bylaw.

DPECA urges all residents to review the DRAFT Tree Preservation Bylaw as soon as possible.  BELOW to the district’s information sources, including: a written text of the new bylaw, a link to the existing Draft Tree Preservation Bylaw, and a presentation to the district by consultants with a Question and Answer session.

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