Vancouver City Council has voted to terminate a bylaw that has allowed city residents to cut down mature and healthy trees located on their own property.
The change in policy is part of the long-term ‘Urban Forest Strategy’ to protect existing trees and plant trees more strategically and is a different take on the municipal government’s goal of making Vancouver the world’s greenest city.
“The Urban Forest Strategy will ensure a clear and balanced approach to protecting, expanding and maintaining our urban forest, and move us closer to our goal of becoming the greenest city by 2020,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “This forward-looking approach brings together a diverse set of plans, bylaws and policies into a single, dedicated strategy that will help guide our sustainable growth and social well-being. It also brings our bylaws related to tree removal in line with the rest of Metro Vancouver.”
It will also protect Vancouver’s urban tree canopy, which has declined from 22 per cent to 18 per cent since 1995 – even though the City of Vancouver plants thousands of new trees every year. 96 per cent of the tree loss during this two decade period occurred on private property.
However, there are some exceptions to the ban. Property owners can now remove a tree only if the tree is: hazardous; dead, diseased or dying; within a new building footprint; or close to, or interfering with, drainage systems, sewage systems or utilities.
To supplement the repeal of the bylaw, the municipal government will also plant 150,000 additional trees on city property by 2020. This adds to Vancouver’s ‘urban forest’ of 140,000 street trees and 300,000 park trees.
Featured Image: Vancouver real estate via Shutterstock