The tree located at the intersection of Wharf, Humboldt and Government streets was removed to accommodate the new bike lane and pedestrian scramble. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

City of Victoria looks at amending tree preservation bylaw by redefining ‘tree’

Misunderstandings between what is considered a ‘tree’ has been causing problems

The City of Victoria is going back to the basics as it considers amending its Tree Preservation Bylaw.

In a staff recommendation coming to the committee of the whole on Thursday, Thomas Soulliere, director of parks, recreation and facilities suggested that within the bylaw, the definition of ‘tree’ be expanded.

Presently, the definition of tree in the bylaw only applies to living trees; Soulliere suggests it also apply to dead trees.

“[Presently] dead protected trees can be cut down without a permit,” the report reads. “Replacement trees are not required with the removal of protected trees that are dead.”

An adjustment to include dead trees within the bylaw would mean that all protected trees require a permit for removal and that two replacement trees are required once a protected tree is removed.

ALSO READ: Tree activists call for better transparency after Humboldt Street tree removal

“This change in definition will ensure that all protected trees will have the same review process and replacement requirements,” the report reads.

The report also hopes to clarify the definition of building envelope lines; currently, a building envelop is defined in relation to the primary building and accessory buildings on a property, which allows for a protected tree to be removed anywhere that an accessory building is placed on the lot.

City staff have noticed issues with this definition when people apply for permits to build a garage with intentions to later turn it into a garden suite in an effort to circumnavigate permit requirements. Garden suite requirements hold higher considerations for trees and “mature landscape features.”

ALSO READ: ‘Harry Potter tree’ near Victoria waterfront to be removed

A proposed definition change would say that the “building envelope and building envelope line are defined in relation only to the primary building,” making sure that accessory buildings are placed in locations that limit the removal of trees.

Lastly, the proposed bylaw changes also ask that specific qualifications be required for those conducting assessments for tree removal, with recommendations that the International Society of Arboriculture Tree Risk Assessor Qualification be the standard.

These changes will come to the committee of the whole on Thursday morning.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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