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Edmonton exploring options to protect trees on private land


The City of Edmonton is looking at options to protect trees located on private property.

A report presented to the Urban Planning Committee on Tuesday says trees are often removed from infill development lots because their placement limits the buildable area on the site.

The report presents three options to protect trees on private land.

The first option is a private tree bylaw, which would require a permit for the removal of trees or a tree preservation plan when development is taking place on site.

The second option is regulating trees through a zoning bylaw. Tree removal would be tied directly to development permits.

The third option is for the city to provide incentives for preserving existing trees.

According to the report, Ottawa, Toronto and Surrey currently have bylaws that require residents to obtain a permit before removing a tree on private land.

The city had hoped to implement a bylaw covering private trees in 2016, but did not have the authority under the Municipal Government Act.

In 2018, the introduction of the City Charter gave the city the ability to pass a bylaw to protect private trees.

“We are absolutely in a climate crisis, and we as a city need to be taking every action we possibly can to mitigate that,” said Coun. Ashley Salvador.

Salvador says the city’s goal is to stop the removal of trees without a good reason.

“Of the numerous things that will have to be considered, I think the size and maturity of trees will be a really important factor.”

One local arborist says removing trees from private properties in the city is already a long process.

“Sometimes it can really take weeks to months to get trees removed and that’s without the city putting more red tape on us,” Benoit Boudreau told CTV News Edmonton.

He says many of the trees he removes have been damaged or diseased.

“We shouldn’t underestimate how many trees are removed and that are hazardous every year in Edmonton. We probably have to hire 50 to 100 new urban foresters in the city in order to constantly be going out and inspecting these trees.”

He hopes the city will refocus its resources on protecting public trees, saying most of his customers see removal as a last resort.

“It’s not like Edmontonians hate trees and they just want all the trees cut down in the city, we pride ourselves on our urban forest.” 

Edmonton currently has a bylaw that requires a permit or preservation plan for any work done within five metres of a boulevard and open space tree or within 10 metres of a natural stand.

The city is currently in the process of trying to increase the urban tree count in Edmonton by two million net new trees.

The committee passed a motion Tuesday afternoon to have city administration provide another report on options to achieve the two million tree goal, along with a potential private tree bylaw, for the first quarter of 2023. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson. Top Stories

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