Vancouver urban trees

Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices

Chapter 5. Enabling Legislation, Municipal By-laws and Regulations

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In Canada, legislation is enacted and enforced at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Because the urban forest is largely managed at the municipal level, it is the municipalities who enact and enforce legislation regarding trees on both municipal and private land. Municipalities can pass these laws only under the authority of enabling legislation from the province (municipalities being creations of the provinces). Some common elements of tree cutting bylaws include:

  • Regulating tree protection during construction activities, hydro utility practices, and damaging practices by residents (topping etc.)
  • Heritage trees for protection
  • Building envelope placement, tree preservation plans, permits, replacement trees etc.

Legal precedents in Canada regarding trees on private and public property involve the joint ownership between private landowners and municipalities (Dunster and Murray 1995) Tree by-laws clearly state prohibited activities, exemptions, processes and enforcement through fixed fines and penalties.


York Region, ON: Forest Conservation By-law
City of Toronto, ON: Private Tree By-law
City of Mississauga, ON: Tree By-law
City of Calgary, AB: Tree Protection By-law
City of Thunder Bay, ON: Tree By-law
Ontario’s Forestry Laws
City of Kitchener, ON: Tree Management Policy
City of Vancouver, BC: Street Tree Guidelines
St. John’s, NL: Tree By-law
City of Kingston, ON: Tree Conservation By-law
City of Montreal, QC: Pointe-Clair By-laws
City of London, ON: Tree Protection By-law
Town of Oakville, ON: Tree Protection Policy
City of Edmonton, AB: Tree regulations
City of Guelph, ON: Tree By-law
City of Burnaby, BC: Tree By-law
City of Vancouver, BC: Street Tree By-law
City of Owen Sound, ON: Tree Preservation Policy

Online documents (.PDF or .DOC)

City of Kelowna, BC: Municipal Properties Tree By-law (.PDF)
Tree By-law Assessment Project for the City of North Vancouver
Integrated Pest Management Policy: Edmonton, AB
Dutch Elm Disease (Community Standards Bylaw): City of Edmonton, AB
Report on Tree Conservation By-Laws in Southern Ontario (.PDF)
Hazard Tree Policy: Toronto Region Conservation Authority (.PDF)

Non-Canadian sites & resources

City of Seattle Tree Management Policy (.PDF)
The Maryland Forest Conservation Act
Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances, USDA and ISA (.PDF)
City of Palo Alto, Standard Specification for street tree planting (.PDF)

Bibliographical Resources:

Dunster, J., Murray, S. (1995). Arboriculture and the Law in Canada. International Society of Arboriculture. Vancouver, BC. 225 pp.


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