Tree Removal & Replacement

Protecting our healthy trees–understanding the rules around tree removal and replacement on private property

Our goal is to maintain healthy, protected trees where possible. However, protected trees sometimes need to be removed because they present a hazard, are in conflict with urban land use or need to make way for development.

Criteria for deciding whether a protected tree can be removed

The City provides this general guide for you to understand why you may or may not be issued a tree cutting permit for a protected tree on your property.

Review Burnaby's Tree Bylaw before you consider removing a protected tree on your specific property.

  • tree is unhealthy
  • tree is structurally unsound
  • tree roots are interfering with underground utilities
  • tree is obstructing sightlines on roadways
  • tree is causing damage to structures on the property (that could not be mitigated through other means)
  • species not well suited to growing conditions on the site.
  • not enough space on-site to accommodate mature form
  • less than 10 years of healthy lifespan remaining
  • retention of tree would prevent development or servicing of the lot, per the zoning bylaw
  • retention of tree would cause undue hardship to the property owner
  • tree is shading the yard/house
  • tree is dropping leaves, needles or other normal material
  • tree is obstructing views
  • tree is preventing alternative landscaping of the yard
  • tree attracts bugs (unless due to poor health)
  • tree attracts birds or other wildlife

Tree replacement requirements

Replacement trees are required as a condition of all Tree Cutting Permits. The number of replacement trees you need to plant depends on the size of the tree you’re removing. The only exception is tree removal on single-family and 2-family properties that aren't undergoing development where replacement trees may be required. In these cases, the City may direct you to plant replacement trees, depending on the characteristics and constraints of the property.

The number of replacement trees required will be determined by the size of the tree being removed, as outlined below:

Size of tree to be cut or removed

Number of replacement trees required

20.3 cm (8”) to 30.5 cm (12”)

1

30.5 cm (12”) to 61 cm (24”)

2

61 cm (24”) or greater

3

Having a replacement tree ratio based on the size of the tree(s) removed allows Burnaby to compensate for the environmental and community benefits that larger trees provide.

If it isn't feasible to plant the required number of replacement trees on a subject property, you may need to make a cash-in-lieu contribution to the City’s Civic Tree Reserve Fund (a fund maintained by the City for the acquisition of new trees).

Replacement tree bond

If replacement trees are required, a bond (security) must be provided to the City before the Tree Cutting Permit is issued. The cost will be the greater of these 2 measures:

  • $941 per tree and an additional $325-650 for each additional replacement tree. This fee is adjusted annually.

or

  • an amount equal to 120% of the cost of the replacement trees.

Bonding ensures that replacement trees are planted on time and maintained for the first year giving them the best chance for survival.

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

Acceptable trees for replacement

Here are the tree planting requirements for the replacement trees.

  • Coniferous trees such as Douglas fir, Hinoki cypress, or spruce must be at least 2 metres high. We strongly advise against cedar trees as they've been dying off suddenly due to drought conditions.
  • Deciduous trees like redbud, dogwood, snowbell, maple or magnolia must have a minimum trunk diameter of 5cm. If you're considering a Japanese maple–many of them don't meet our replacement requirements because they stay as a low shrub, never growing to true tree form.
  • Fruit trees 2 fruit trees equal 1 replacement tree unless you find a fruit tree with a 5 cm diameter–then it counts as a full replacement tree.
  • Palm trees must be a minimum of 2 metres high
  • Full list of recommended replacement trees

Species that won't be accepted as replacement trees

  • Cedar hedging and all other hedging varieties Hedges are not protected under the Tree Bylaw and don't count as replacement trees.
  • Shrubs or low-growing varieties of trees Topiary plants are considered shrubs. If you're considering a Japanese maple–many varieties don't meet our replacement requirements because they stay as a low shrub, never growing to true tree form.
  • Invasive species - Some ornamental plants look attractive and tree-like and grow quickly to a large size, but they're a serious threat to natural ecosystems.

Planting your replacement tree(s)

Whichever plant you choose must grow into a tree form– not a hedge or a shrub. Topiary plants are considered shrubs.

The tree(s) you purchase should be good quality nursery stock. Plant the trees according to the tree's attached instructions or call one of our arborists to discuss.

Replacement trees must be planted on private property, not on the city boulevard. You can plant them wherever you like on your property, but provide adequate spacing between trees–at least 3 metres (10 feet) from tree trunk to tree trunk. Ensure the location you choose allows them to grow to maturity.

Once the trees are planted, contact the City's arborist for the first inspection. This will start the 1-year waiting period for a re-inspection. Once the re-inspection is over, we'll refund your tree bond.

Selecting replacement trees and assessing your current trees

Our Tree Bylaw team can assist you with species and site selection for replacement trees on your property. The team can also answer any questions related to their planting and care.

Contact one of our arborists for more information.

If you need help with City-owned trees, contact the Parks Forestry Department's Treeline below. The department provides a full range of arboricultural services for boulevards and park trees.

Learn more

Contact us

For more information about your trees, City trees or our Tree4Free program, please contact:

 
Phone
Email
Trees on City property / Tree service line 604-297-4500 [email protected]
Trees on private property / Tree permit requests 604-294-7130 [email protected]

Tree Bylaw Arborist: Geoff Gooderham

604-294-7921 [email protected]

Tree Bylaw Arborist: Lesa Petrik

604-297-4935 [email protected]
Tree4Free program 604-294-7206 [email protected]

Was this page useful?