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Burnaby Tree Bylaw

Burnaby’s Tree Bylaw was established in 1996 to protect the City’s trees and neighbourhood character. Council has amended the Tree Bylaw to further enhance the City’s approach to tree protection.

The Tree Bylaw is based on the following principles:

  • A Balanced Approach: The Bylaw should provide a balance between the use and enjoyment of private property, while addressing the need to protect trees.
  • Reasonable Cost: The Bylaw should not impose an unreasonable financial burden on property owners or on the City in administering the Bylaw.
  • Simplicity and Effectiveness: The Bylaw should be easily understood and capable of effective enforcement.
  • The Urban Forest: The Bylaw should recognize that trees on both private and public lands are an important component of the urban forest and ecology of the city.

The Burnaby Tree Bylaw aims to protect ‘significant’ trees within the City and ensure an adequate amount of replacement trees to enhance the urban forest.

General information on the Burnaby Tree Bylaw is presented below, under the following headings:

For additional information, you can learn more by reading the Council Reports and the Additional Information links listed to the right, or contact the Planning and Building Department.

Background Information

Burnaby was originally covered in ancient forests dominated by Hemlock, Cedar, Douglas Fir and Spruce trees. Over time, the City has been development and today it is characterized by a variety of urban landscapes in which trees both native and non-native have been cultivated. A key part of Burnaby’s identity is the preservation of over 25% of the City’s land base as public green space as well as the many treed or forested areas throughout the City on both public and private lands, such as conservation areas, wetlands, parks, boulevards and rights-of-way, residential yards and a variety of other landscaped spaces. Collectively, these trees and forested areas comprise Burnaby’s Urban Forest which help to protect ecosystems and human health.

Trees contribute to Burnaby’s livability, health and prosperity, as well as providing environmental, social, and economic benefits. Learn more about how trees contribute to our community.  

What has changed in the Burnaby Tree Bylaw?

The updated Burnaby Tree Bylaw was approved by Council on February 17, 2014.

The following changes (amendments) have been made to the Burnaby Tree Bylaw:

  • The scope has been expanded to include all lands at all times;
  • The size of “Protected Trees” has been defined;
  • Replacement Tree Requirements have been included;
  • The Enforcement Provisions have been enhanced;
  • The Tree Cutting Permit Fees have been revised; and,
  • Opportunities for Boulevard Trees have been included in the Local Area Service Program (LASP).

Please see the Council Reports listed to the right for further information.

Scope of the Burnaby Tree Bylaw

The Burnaby Tree Bylaw:

  • Applies to all private and City-owned lands at all times.
  • Applies to all lands whether they are undergoing development or NOT.
  • Requires a Tree Cutting Permit to remove a Protected Tree.
  • Provides consistency and clarity on tree protection requirements for all lands.
  • Assists the City in tracking and enforcing tree planting and management issues.

The City of Burnaby provides tree reviews with most rezonings, preliminary plan approvals, and subdivision applications to protect existing trees and to ensure the planting of new trees.  

What is a “Protected Tree”?

A “Protected Tree” is defined in the Burnaby Tree Bylaw as:

i.  On properties subject to a development application, any tree 20cm (8 inches) or greater in diameter. 
ii.  On properties NOT subject to a development application: 
   a. any Conifer tree 30cm (12 inches) or greater in diameter; and,
   b. any Broadleaf tree 45cm (18 inches) or greater in diameter.
iii.   A Covenanted Tree.  
iv.  A tree within a streamside protection and enhancement area as defined in Section 6.23 of the Zoning Bylaw.  
v.  A tree on a lot designated as Cemetery District (P4) under the Zoning Bylaw.  
vi.   A tree planted pursuant to a landscaping plan forming a part of an approved development application under the Zoning Bylaw or as a condition of subdivision approval.  
vii.   A Replacement Tree.  

A Retained Tree.  

If your tree meets the definition of a “Protected Tree” noted above, you will need a Tree Cutting Permit to remove the tree.   

Tree Cutting Permits

A Tree Cutting Permit is required to remove any Protected Tree.

Once you have determined that your tree is a Protected Tree, you must fill out an application for a Tree Cutting Permit and pay the associated fees. As a part of the permit process, the City will determine whether you will be required to plant Replacement Trees. If Replacement Trees are required, a bond will be required for those trees, to be paid prior to receiving your Tree Cutting Permit. Once you have your Tree Cutting Permit you may remove your tree.

You can learn more about Tree Cutting Permits at the following links:

Tree Replacement Requirements

Replacement Trees are required as a condition of all Tree Cutting Permits. The only exception is tree removal on single- and two-family properties that are NOT undergoing development where replacement trees may be required.

The number of replacement trees required will be determined by the size of the tree removed, as outlined in the following chart:

Size of Tree to be Cut or Removed Number of Replacement Trees Required
20.3cm (8”) to 30.5cm (12”) 1
30.5cm (12”) to 61cm (24”) 2
61cm (24”) or greater  3

The scaled tree replacement ratio acknowledges the increased environmental and community benefits provided by larger trees, and enables a more rapid recovery of those benefits after a permitted tree cutting or removal.

If it is not feasible to plant the required number of Replacement Trees on a subject property, a cash-in-lieu contribution to the City’s Civic Tree Reserve Fund will be required.

The Civic Tree Reserve Fund will be used for the planting and maintenance of trees within the City’s parks, conservation lands, and as part of street / boulevard beautification projects on City-owned lands.

In the case of tree removal on single- and two-family properties that are NOT undergoing development, Replacement Trees would be a condition that may be applied, subject to consideration of the characteristics and constraints of the property.

If Replacement Trees are required, a bond (security) must be provided to the City before the Tree Cutting Permit is issues and will be the greater of $800 per property or an amount equal to 120% of the cost of the Replacement Trees. Bonding for Replacement Trees enables the City to ensure that the Replacement Trees are planted in a timely manner and are maintained for the first year, which generally results in a better chance of survival.

Any forfeited bonds will be placed in the City’s Civic Tree Reserve Fund.  

Enforcement of the Burnaby Tree Bylaw

A response by the City is usually triggered by:

  • A complaint; OR,
  • In the case of sites undergoing development, a Property Owner or Contractor who fails to comply with the Burnaby Tree Bylaw.

The Burnaby Tree Bylaw is enforced through a series of progressive steps, to be utilized consecutively, if necessary, to achieve compliance with the Bylaw.

The Burnaby Tree Bylaw enforcement provisions are as follows:

  1. Mitigation Tree Planting: A land owner may be required to plant Replacement Trees if they cut, remove or damage a protected tree in contravention of the Tree Bylaw. If planting Replacement Trees on the subject property is not feasible, a contribution as cash-in-lieu to the Civic Tree Reserve Fund will be required.
  2. Withholding a Bond: A bond may be withheld if the Replacement Trees are not planted as required by the Burnaby Tree Bylaw.
  3. Ticketing for Tree Bylaw Infractions: The penalty for cutting or removing a Protected Tree without a valid Tree Cutting Permit is $500.
  4. Tree Bylaw Penalty: The penalty specified in the Burnaby Tree Bylaw, for a prosecution under the Offense Act is a minimum of $2000 and a maximum of $10,000.

The specific approach utilized would depend on the severity of the offense.  

Boulevard Trees in the Local Area Service Program (LASP)

Residential property owners, with a previously improved street, can apply for the installation or replacement of Boulevard Trees, under the City’s Local Area Service Program (LASP).

LASP’s are generally undertaken on an annual basis and are typically initiated by property owners. To better understand the process, please see the following links:  

Planting new Boulevard Trees will only be undertaken on ‘finished’ streets that already have sidewalks/gutters, etc. For streets without these amenities, owners would need to apply for the ‘standard’ Road Works LASP which includes the installation of Boulevard Trees.

To be eligible, a petition must be signed by the owners of at least 50% of the parcels that would be subject to the local service tax; representing at least 50% of the assessed property values.

The replacement of an existing block of Boulevard Trees is subject to Staff review to ensure consistency with the tree removal criteria of the Burnaby Tree Bylaw, as well as the City’s Tree Management Policy for Public Lands. Replacement Trees would be chosen to fit well with the specific site conditions and context.

LASP project costs are shared between the City and the abutting property owners. For current fees please refer to the LASP brochure.  

Tree Bylaw logo

Contact Us

For more information please contact the Planning and Building Department:

Phone:   General Inquiries:
  For matters regarding 
trees on City property. 
Tree Service Line:
Fax:   604-294-7499  
Mail:   City of Burnaby
Building Department
(Tree Bylaw)
4949 Canada Way
Burnaby, BC V5G 1M2 | Map