A pilot Private tree bylaw for Roseland will come in effect March 1st.

News 100 greenBy Staff

January 22nd, 2019



After years of getting to the point where there would be a Private Tree Bylaw Burlington is now ready to put at least a toe in the water of a very controversial issue: can anyone just cut down a tree on their property.

The Roseland Private Tree Bylaw Pilot comes into effect March 1. Information sessions are planned.

City tree photo

Streets can look like this as long as the owners of the property those tress are on go along with the bylaw.

The pilot project aims to protect private trees with diameters larger than 30 cm, historic and rare tree species from damage or destruction.

The two-year pilot will conclude in March of 2021. At the end of the pilot, a report with recommendations will be presented to City Council.

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).

The full bylaw, including information on permits, exemptions and fines, visit Burlington.ca/PrivateTree.

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 Burlington.ca/PrivateTree

Permits you will have yo get – and pay for:
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 Burlington.ca/PrivateTree.

Fines for failing to comply with the bylaw:

Minimum fine is $500. Maximum fine is $100,000.

Public Information Session
Residents and businesses of the Roseland community are invited to attend a drop-in information session on the Private Tree Bylaw pilot on January 29, 2019, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre, 2285 New St., Burlington.

Belvenia trees-1024x768

This is what Belvenia looks like now – a lot of the trees are on city property.

The informal, drop-in style of session will allow residents and businesses to learn about the Private Tree Bylaw and how it will impact their homes, business and neighbourhood by speaking with city staff including members of the Forestry Department.

For those who are unable to attend, more information can be found at burlington.ca/PrivateTree.

A second information session will be held for those living and working outside of the Roseland community at a later date.

Geese on Guelph Line and the apple trees

There is a relationship between those trees and those geese. The geese were eating the apples that fell from the tree and they pooped on the church driveway – church didn’t like that – the trees were cut down.

The Mayor has gone very public on this one.  Marianne Meed Ward said: “As I mentioned in my inaugural address, protecting Burlington’s tree canopy is one my goals. Burlington residents feel passionately about this issue. These trees are a big part of what makes our city beautiful, and they are also important contributors to our clean air, an important part of mitigating flood risk in our neighborhoods, and they provide shelter and sustenance for countless creatures in our natural surroundings. They’re a valuable resource we need to protect.”

Mary Battaglia, Director of Roads, Parks & Forestry explains that: “Although the city is responsible for thousands of trees on its streets and in its parks and open spaces, most of Burlington’s trees are on private land which makes it so important to work with residents and other stakeholders who own or manage these properties throughout the city as they have the greatest ability to preserve and protect the city’s urban forest.”

Links and Resources
Private Tree Bylaw Pilot


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6 comments to A pilot Private tree bylaw for Roseland will come in effect March 1st.

  • Fran - Tyandaga-Ward1

    Let’s not forget the trees across our city and beyond. Natural Capital$$$$ Do we really need a two year pilot project when so much is already known about the importance that our trees play whether is it on private or public lands. Let’s move forward sooner.



    There is some interesting information from the World Economic Forum 2019. Example:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dx_x8tQW0AA7qmz.jpg tweeted at https://twitter.com/wef

  • Alfred

    Curious as to why the cost of a permit to cut a tree was not disclosed? I mean the real cost. The arborist reports, the carrying costs, permit fees, several months to process an application, Special digging techniques with costly machines, tree Doctors. My guess it could run around $10,000 a tree. The fact that a person might not be able to build a new house or an addition on their property, because of a tree is sheer lunacy and scary. Very few trees are cut down in Burlington because of Development. Please post the stats. You will realize this is all fake news. Burlington has over 3,000,000 trees. This tree by-law is an invasion of property rights and is nothing more than a tree tax. If we need trees in Burlington. Let’s start planting them where they belong. Affordability in Canada is now a National crisis Burlington should be doing more to cut out red tape to make houses more affordable. Curious to know what grew on the sites where these pro by-law folks live. Tree cutting must have been ok. for them.

  • Lisa Cooper,

    Can you explain why only Roseland is getting this pilot. Where I live would greatly benefit a private tree by-law beautiful old oak trees already enough have been cut in my own neighborhood. Oh wait it’s mountainside who care’s right???
    Perhaps our Ward councillor can comment or does he still not live in Ward 3?

  • Lindsay James

    It’s a developer’s bylaw and they are loving it. Think about it. First of all, they have two years to clear cut all the established neighbourhood trees and build townhouses throwing in a few token “lollipop” trees. Then, if and only if, Council decides this is good for the City in a “for or against” vote – not a “let’s find a better solution”, they can continue to run all over the city clear cutting at only $700 a tree for those above a foot diameter. There are better solutions and free advice from people who have been through this and made the right decisions. I would like to know why the Forestry Manager left the City. When she started she had a grin from ear to ear on how she was tying climate change into tree preservation. Then, when she held up that one foot diameter slice of a tree at the Council meeting saying this is the size up to which you can cut down without a permit, the devastated look on her face said it all.

    We need a private tree bylaw with guts and now.

  • vfiorito

    Some suggestions and considerations for a Tree By-Law

    Trees on private property are community assets. They clean our air and cool our city, reducing air conditioning costs. They sequester carbon, fighting climate change. They slow the growth rate of non-native turf grass (lawns), reducing the frequency of mowing and as a result Green House Gas emissions. Trees increase privacy and are associated with lower stress and improved mental health. Since these positive effects are community wide, even trees on private property must be considered community assets.

    We should have 4 recognized tree species categories
    1) rare, endangered or signicant native trees – protected and stewardship rewarded
    2) common native trees – protected
    3) benign non-native trees – can be removed
    4) invasive non-native trees – must be removed

    Only a limited number of common native and benign non-native trees may be cut. These trees must be immediately replaced with new native trees that will replace the lost canopy within 20 years.

    The by-law must not allow a fee in lieu of replacing lost tree canopy. Burlington has a problem with declining tree canopy. If your house lost part of its roof, the solution is to repair your roof, not take cash in lieu of repairs and accept a permanent hole in your roof.

    The by-law must not protect problematic non-native tree species such as Buckthorn and Norway Maple, in the same way it would be a bad idea to have a bylaw protecting purple loosestrife and the emerald ash borer. When problematic non-native tree species become established, they tend to out compete native trees, causing habitat loss, contributing to the growing biodiversity crisis.

    The bylaw must recognize and allow the special protection of tree species at risk of extinction, including Butternut, American Chestnut and Flowering Dogwood. The owners of these trees should be rewarded for stewardship

    The by-law must recognize and allow the special protection of Burlington’s honor roll of significant trees. An example would be Brant’s Oak tree, which was used a survey mark to define Brant’s Land Grant near 548 Allview Ave. The owners of these trees should be rewarded for stewardship.

    Non-native invasive tree species (category 4 in the OP) should be cut. The tree by-law must not protect these species. Instead the bylaw should encourage their removal and replacement with native tree species.

    Earning a living from cutting or heating homes with non-native invasive trees would be a win/win solution and should be encouraged

    I do not support the proposed pilot bylaw because it does not prevent clear cutting for residential development intensification in established neighborhoods. Native Trees must have priority over proposed new structures. Protecting Trees in this manner will also help preserve the character and nature of our neighborhoods.

    Finally a city wide private tree bylaw must be part of a comprehensive tree preservation and restoration effort to increase our tree canopy to the point where it covers at least 30% of Burlington within 30 years. Burlington’s tree canopy is anticipated to drop from 16% to 8% by 2042 without a private tree bylaw and business as usual.

  • Steve

    So, a 35 year old tree is now considered an old growth tree? Totalitarian creep.