Private Tree Protection Bylaw

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Help us find the right balance to protect and enhance Guelph's tree canopy while we continue to grow and develop across the city.

Please take 10 minutes to complete the online survey open from April 30 to May 27.Button to navigate directly to the survey with a click

Guelph values its tree canopy cover and the numerous contributions trees make to the health of our community. A private tree protection bylaw is one of the tools the City uses to protect and enhance tree canopy cover, and to help build a sustainable city.

Increasing pressures on Guelph’s tree canopy cover related to urban intensification and climate change, as well as updates to related policies and regulations, have made reviewing and updating the current Private Tree Protection Bylaw a priority.

In late 2022, the City retained a multi-disciplinary consulting team to lead the research and engagement for Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw update. In the spring of 2023 we reached out to the community to hear about your thoughts about and experiences with the private tree bylaw. Now we’re seeking your input to options identified for updating the bylaw!

Engagement summary from Phase 1

Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey and conversations throughout Phase 1. We've analyzed the information and summarized what we heard throughout the spring of 2023 to share in our What We Heard Phase 1 Summary.

Opportunities for Engagement in Phase 2

Between April 30 and May 27 we are reaching out to the community to get your input on the options for updating Guelph’s private tree bylaw being considered.

On March 5, 2024, staff presented an "Issues and Opportunities" report to the Committee of the Whole. This report identified four options for updating Guelph’s private tree bylaw which it recommended be presented to the community for feedback, along with a few other considerations. This report and its recommendations were approved by Council on March 26 and now it is your change to tell us what you think!

We’re asking the community to weigh in on whether the size of tree(s) regulated and/or the size of lot(s) captured by the bylaw should change, and share their thoughts on a few other aspects of the bylaw.

Please take 10 minutes to complete the online survey open from April 30 to May 27.

You are also invited to join us at any of the following public events:

  • In-person pop-up: Saturday, May 4, drop in between 10:30 am ‒ 1:30 p.m. at Victoria Road Recreation Centre, 151 Victoria Rd N
  • Virtual information session: Wednesday, May 8, 6:30‒8 p.m. – Register for the Zoom link here.
  • In-person pop-up: Saturday, May 11, 8 a.m.‒1 p.m. at the Guelph Farmer’s Market, 2 Gordon Street
  • In-person information session: Tuesday, May 14, 6:30‒8 p.m. at Guelph City Hall, Room C, 1 Carden Street


Interested in learning more about the options being considered for updating Guelph's private tree bylaw?

What's Next

A summary of the feedback from the second round of engagement will be shared with the community later in 2024.

The direction for updating Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw will be confirmed based on

  • the findings of the background review and assessments;
  • the local context and issues;
  • feedback gathered in Phase 1 and Phase 2; and
  • input from City staff (e.g., legal, bylaw).

The updated private tree bylaw is to be presented to Council for approval in the first half of 2025.

This bylaw, along with other planning tools, is expected to help the City accommodate growth and intensification while also sustaining and enhancing Guelph’s tree canopy cover. These efforts are also expected to help us build local resilience to climate change.

For more information, please contact:

Timea Filer, Urban Forestry Field Technologist
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3352
timea.filer@guelph.ca

Help us find the right balance to protect and enhance Guelph's tree canopy while we continue to grow and develop across the city.

Please take 10 minutes to complete the online survey open from April 30 to May 27.Button to navigate directly to the survey with a click

Guelph values its tree canopy cover and the numerous contributions trees make to the health of our community. A private tree protection bylaw is one of the tools the City uses to protect and enhance tree canopy cover, and to help build a sustainable city.

Increasing pressures on Guelph’s tree canopy cover related to urban intensification and climate change, as well as updates to related policies and regulations, have made reviewing and updating the current Private Tree Protection Bylaw a priority.

In late 2022, the City retained a multi-disciplinary consulting team to lead the research and engagement for Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw update. In the spring of 2023 we reached out to the community to hear about your thoughts about and experiences with the private tree bylaw. Now we’re seeking your input to options identified for updating the bylaw!

Engagement summary from Phase 1

Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey and conversations throughout Phase 1. We've analyzed the information and summarized what we heard throughout the spring of 2023 to share in our What We Heard Phase 1 Summary.

Opportunities for Engagement in Phase 2

Between April 30 and May 27 we are reaching out to the community to get your input on the options for updating Guelph’s private tree bylaw being considered.

On March 5, 2024, staff presented an "Issues and Opportunities" report to the Committee of the Whole. This report identified four options for updating Guelph’s private tree bylaw which it recommended be presented to the community for feedback, along with a few other considerations. This report and its recommendations were approved by Council on March 26 and now it is your change to tell us what you think!

We’re asking the community to weigh in on whether the size of tree(s) regulated and/or the size of lot(s) captured by the bylaw should change, and share their thoughts on a few other aspects of the bylaw.

Please take 10 minutes to complete the online survey open from April 30 to May 27.

You are also invited to join us at any of the following public events:

  • In-person pop-up: Saturday, May 4, drop in between 10:30 am ‒ 1:30 p.m. at Victoria Road Recreation Centre, 151 Victoria Rd N
  • Virtual information session: Wednesday, May 8, 6:30‒8 p.m. – Register for the Zoom link here.
  • In-person pop-up: Saturday, May 11, 8 a.m.‒1 p.m. at the Guelph Farmer’s Market, 2 Gordon Street
  • In-person information session: Tuesday, May 14, 6:30‒8 p.m. at Guelph City Hall, Room C, 1 Carden Street


Interested in learning more about the options being considered for updating Guelph's private tree bylaw?

What's Next

A summary of the feedback from the second round of engagement will be shared with the community later in 2024.

The direction for updating Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw will be confirmed based on

  • the findings of the background review and assessments;
  • the local context and issues;
  • feedback gathered in Phase 1 and Phase 2; and
  • input from City staff (e.g., legal, bylaw).

The updated private tree bylaw is to be presented to Council for approval in the first half of 2025.

This bylaw, along with other planning tools, is expected to help the City accommodate growth and intensification while also sustaining and enhancing Guelph’s tree canopy cover. These efforts are also expected to help us build local resilience to climate change.

For more information, please contact:

Timea Filer, Urban Forestry Field Technologist
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3352
timea.filer@guelph.ca

  • Other Engagement Activities in phase 2

    Share Other Engagement Activities in phase 2 on Facebook Share Other Engagement Activities in phase 2 on Twitter Share Other Engagement Activities in phase 2 on Linkedin Email Other Engagement Activities in phase 2 link

    Between April 30 and May 27 we are reaching out to the community to get your input on the options for updating Guelph’s private tree bylaw being considered.

    We’re asking the community to weigh in on whether the size of tree(s) regulated and/or the size of lot(s) captured by the bylaw should change, and share their thoughts on a few other aspects of the bylaw.

    How you can participate

    Please take 10 minutes to complete the online survey open from April 30 to May 27 (survey coming soon)

    You are also invited to join us at any of the following public events:

    • In-person pop-up: Saturday, May 4, drop in between 10:30 am ‒ 1:30 p.m. at Victoria Road Recreation Centre, 151 Victoria Rd N
    • Virtual information session: Wednesday, May 8, 6:30‒8 p.m. – Register for the Zoom link here
    • In-person pop-up: Saturday, May 11, 8 a.m.‒1 p.m. at the Guelph Farmer’s Market, 2 Gordon Street
    • In-person information session: Tuesday, May 14, 6:30‒8 p.m. at Guelph City Hall, Room C, 1 Carden Street

    What’s Next?

    A summary of the feedback from the second round of engagement will be shared with the community later in 2024.

    The direction for updating Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw will be confirmed based on:

    • the findings of the background review and assessments;
    • the local context and issues;
    • feedback gathered in Phase 1 and Phase 2; and
    • input from City staff (e.g., legal, bylaw).

    The updated private tree bylaw is to be presented to Council for approval in the first half of 2025.

    This bylaw, along with other planning tools, is expected to help the City accommodate growth and intensification while also sustaining and enhancing Guelph’s tree canopy cover. These efforts are also expected to help us build local resilience to climate change.

    Resources

    Interested in learning more? Please have a look at the:


  • Background information

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    Key facts about the current private tree bylaw

    The current Private Tree Protection Bylaw regulates trees that are at least 10 centimetres (cm) in diameter on privately-owned lots greater than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres).

    There are over 37,000 private lots in the city. The current by-law regulates about 2,000 of them. Most residential homeowners are excluded because their lots are smaller than 0.2 hectares.

    The City’s current tree canopy cover is about 23 per cent. Analysis done to assess how much of this canopy is regulated under the current bylaw found that:

    • 50 per cent of the total tree canopy cover is regulated
    • 19 per cent of the total tree canopy cover is unregulated
    • the remaining 31 per cent of the total tree canopy cover falls on public lands that are exempt from this bylaw (but are still subject to other municipal and provincial regulations and policies)

    What's the purpose of this update?

    The purpose of this update is to ensure the Private Tree Protection Bylaw can help the City, along with other planning tools, balance accommodating the required growth with protecting and enhancing Guelph’s tree canopy cover.

    The bylaw will be updated with consideration for:

    • the need to accommodate more infill and compact development
    • input from the community
    • other related laws and policies
    • relevant precedents and best practices
    • resourcing available for bylaw implementation and enforcement

    Through this update we will explore opportunities to protect and enhance Guelph’s tree canopy cover on private lands for current and future generations.


    Why is the bylaw being updated?

    Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw has been in place since 1986 and was last updated in 2010. Since 2010:

    • pressures on our tree canopy have increased as Guelph continues to grow, intensify and shift toward more compact forms of development
    • enhancing tree canopy cover has been recognized as an important factor in building resilience to climate change
    • important policies and regulations related to the current by-law have been updated

    Review of the bylaw was also recommended through the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan. These factors have made updating Guelph’s current private tree protection bylaw a priority.

    What is the intent of the current Private Tree Protection Bylaw?

    The intent of the current bylaw is to protect and enhance Guelph’s tree canopy cover by:

    • avoiding tree removals before developments are approved,
    • encouraging the retention of regulated trees where possible,
    • requiring a permit to remove or damage a regulated tree, and
    • allowing inspectors to require replacement tree plantings and / or compensation when regulated trees are removed or damaged.

    More about Guelph’s Private Tree Protection Bylaw

    What does regulation mean?

    In the context of Guelph’s private tree protection bylaw, it means that a permit from the City is required before undertaking any activities expected to result in the damage or removal of regulated trees. It also means that if the bylaw is not followed, the City can issue orders to stop work, issue fines and / or press charges.

    Notably, the bylaw allows for regulated trees to be damaged or removed without a permit in special cases. Examples include activities within tree nurseries, cemeteries and where trees are certified (e.g., by an arborist) as being high risk or dead.

    How many permits are issued a year?

    As the current private tree protection by-law focuses on larger lots, the number of permits issued per year is relatively low (compared to other municipalities with bylaws regulating trees on all private properties).

    For the past three years Guelph has:

    • issued between 10 and 15 permits per year;
    • denied one permit per year on average;
    • approved between eight and 18 permit exemptions per year; and
    • identified a total of 17 permit violations, with charges laid in one of these cases and the others resolved outside the courts.

    What is captured by the current bylaw?

    There are over 37,000 private lots in the city and the current bylaw regulates about 2,000 of them. These 2,000 lots account for less than five per cent of all private lots in Guelph but capture 45 per cent of the land area and 50 per cent of the total tree canopy cover.

    The City’s current tree canopy cover is about 23 per cent. Analysis completed for this update found that under the current bylaw:

    • 50 per cent of this tree canopy cover is regulated;
    • 19 per cent of this tree canopy cover is unregulated; and
    • the remaining 31 per cent falls on public lands that are exempt from this bylaw (but are still subject to other municipal and provincial regulations and policies).

    Resources

    Interested in learning more? Please have a look at the:

  • Other engagement activities phase 1

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    Watch here for more engagement opportunities announced later in 2023

    There are two phases of engagement as part of this update.

    Between March 6 and April 14, we want to know:

    • If you’ve heard about the Private Tree Protection Bylaw before
    • What you think about the current bylaw
    • How you think the bylaw can be improved

    Each phase will offer a survey to capture community input. There will also be a range of virtual and in-person opportunities to learn more and share your thoughts. We hope to hear from you!

    How you can participate

    You are invited to participate in the first round of engagement in several ways by April 14:

    • Complete the online survey
    • Attend an information session in-person or online to learn more
      • In-person information session, March 30 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Sir Isaac Brock Public School library, 111 Colonial Drive, Guelph
      • Virtual information session, April 11, 6.30 to 8 p.m. on Zoom, register in advance here
    • Drop by one of our pop-ups scheduled around the community to speak with our team
      • March 17, 9 to 11 a.m. at the West End Community Centre lobby, 21 Imperial Road South, Guelph
      • March 25, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the main branch library, 100 Norfolk St, Guelph

    Ward 5 Councilors are also hosting a town hall on April 5

    • It's all about trees...and more! Join us for our Spring Town Hall!
    • Date: Wednesday, April 5 at 7 p.m.
    • Location: Kortright Presbyterian Church, 55 Devere Drive (west of the Hanlon)
    • Format: Both In-person and online Zoom meeting
    • For more information visit https://www.ward5.ca/

    What’s Next?

    Feedback from the this first phase of engagement informed by background research will be summarized in a What We Heard report to be shared with the community later in 2023.

    Options for updating Guelph’s private tree protection by-law will be identified with consideration for:

    • the findings through research and analysis
    • the local context and issues
    • feedback gathered through community engagement

    During Phase 2, participants will have an opportunity to share their perspectives on the identified options.

    The consultants will then work with City staff to confirm a preferred option and develop an updated by-law which is expected to be presented to Council before the end of 2024.

    Resources

    Interested in learning more?

Page last updated: 17 May 2024, 01:09 PM