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Tree By-law Review Project

Project Status: 
Underway

Tree By-law

Consultation

A Discussion Paper slide deck was prepared to summarize the Tree By-law Review project and the challenges that stakeholders have identified with Ottawa’s current tree by-laws. The slide deck also outlines a suite of proposed directions to improve the by-laws and the associated implementation processes. This was prepared to support consultations with residents and stakeholders on the Tree By-law Review project. We asked them: Do you support the proposed directions? Do you have ideas for other solutions? Feedback was accepted between June and September 2019.

As we heard it – Summary of feedback

Thank you for your feedback! Staff received more than 100 public comments over the two-month public consultation period on the Tree By-law Review Project. The vast majority of the submissions express strong support for improvements to the Urban Tree Conservation By-law, and its associated implementation processes, and encourage the City to consider other mechanisms to retain and renew the rapidly decreasing Urban Tree Canopy.

Tree By-laws update public comment submissions

  • Strong support for improvements to the by-law is 88 per cent
  • Non-support is 6 per cent
  • General questions is 6 per cent

Residents expressed that the by-laws should be better implemented and enforced. Compensation should be used to replace and renew the tree canopy in the same neighbourhood that tree removal is taking place. A better monitoring program should be considered.

A significant number of residents suggested that the diameter for Distinctive Tree to be lowered from the current diameter which is 50 cm. A more transparent tree permitting process is preferred. Concerns regarding penalties were also raised, and the consensus is that stiff penalty should apply to unauthorized tree removal.

Issues were identified concerning the loss of urban tree canopy. Infill development is one of the most commonly raised concerns. Lack of consideration of trees in the infill development process, particularly lot design and increasing footprint, is perceived as one of the main causes for rapid decrease of the urban forest canopy in the City’s mature neighbourhood. Concern around construction practices was also raised by the residents. Careless construction practices often pose a threat to trees, especially when the construction activities are been conducted near the critical root zone of the tree. The chart below shows a breakdown of the respondents' main areas of concern and interest.

  • Better construction practice - 14 per cent
  • Decrease diameter for DTP (Distinctive Tree program) - 15 per cent
  • Increase compensation -  15 per cent
  • Better implementation and enforcement - 34 per cent
  • Better/early consideration for trees in infill development process - 39 per cent

Several residents indicated that they object to the idea of a by-law for trees on private property and that permit fees are too high.

Overall, there is broad support for the proposed directions outlined in the consultation materials. Given this feedback, staff is currently working on revising the City’s tree by-laws and will be presenting a revised tree by-law and revised implementation processes to Council shortly.

Background

The City of Ottawa has two tree by-laws—the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law, 2006-279, which covers all municipally owned trees, and the Urban Tree Conservation By-law, 2009-200, which applies to a portion of privately owned trees within the urban boundary dependent on property size and tree size.

Following the completion of the Urban Forest Management Plan UFMP, staff are undertaking a review of the City’s tree by-laws. The objective of the project is to review and update both of Ottawa’s tree by-laws, and the associated processes and procedures. These by-law updates are key to urban forest sustainability and resiliency in Ottawa.

During the consultation process for the Urban Forest Management Plan UFMP, many issues were identified regarding the effectiveness of the Urban Tree Conservation By-law UTCB. Stemming from the feedback received, a key recommendation of the UFMP is to review and update the City’s tree by-laws.

Specifically, the UFMP recommends to:

  • Improve the effectiveness of the UTCB
  • Review and implement opportunities to strengthen the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law
  • Investigate the need for a Heritage Tree By-law, program, or registry in Ottawa
  • Develop city-wide tree compensation guidelines, and
  • Identify and formalize incentives for encouraging tree conservation and establishment

The last two recommendations listed are closely related to the implementation of the City’s tree by-laws and the related development review processes and will therefore be undertaken with the review and update of the existing tree by-laws.

Project Scope

The Tree By-law Review project will include the following elements:

  • Review and update the Urban Tree Conservation By-law and the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law
  • Investigate the need for a heritage tree protection by-law, program, or registry in Ottawa
  • Develop city-wide tree compensation guidelines
  • Identify and formalize incentives for encouraging tree conservation and tree planting
  • Revise City processes and procedures related to tree protection and the implementation of the tree by-laws
  • Consider options for the protection of peri-urban woodlands (i.e., rural woodlands adjacent to the urban boundary) under the Urban Tree Conservation By-law as per direction from Planning Committee on February 27, 2018

Project Deliverables

  • Q2 2018
    • Project website
    • Feedback from internal and external stakeholders
  • Q1 2019
    • Best practices and approaches in other municipalities
    • Consider options for City-wide compensation guidelines and draft implementation guidance
    • Research incentives for urban tree conservation and establishment and develop a suite of incentive options for Ottawa
    • Research heritage tree approaches and draft an approach for Ottawa
  • Q2 2019
    • Consider options for the protection of peri-urban woodlands, i.e., rural woodlands adjacent to the urban boundary under the Urban Tree Conservation By-law
    • Synthesis/Summary of issues
    • Identification of solutions
    • Complete Issue & Position Paper
    • External / Internal Working Group session on Issue & Position Paper
  • Q2 – Q4 2019
    • Incorporation of solutions into draft revised tree by-laws and City processes
    • Issue & Position Paper on project website with survey for feedback
    • Final revised by-law
    • Revised by-law to Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management (December)
  • Q1 - Q2 2020
    • Revised by-law to City Council (January)
    • Finalize revised City processes to implement the revised by-law
    • May 1, 2020 – revised by-law to come into effect

Contact person

Martha Copestake
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department
tel.613-580-2424, ext. 17922
email: martha.copestake@ottawa.ca