tree removal

Can I cut down a tree on my property?

Everything you need to know about cutting down a tree on your property. 

It depends! Most cities have tree preservation bylaws in place to protect some tree species and developing trees. Generally speaking you will need a permit to take down a protected tree and to be approved you’ll need to meet specific criteria. 

If a tree on your property is not protected by the city. It is always advisable to consult with a certified arborist to determine whether tree removal is actually necessary. There could be other ways to save your tree using techniques like pruning, cabling and bracing. 

Let’s explore some more of the questions around removing a tree on your property. 

Can I remove a tree from my property?

For the most part you’ll need a permit to remove a tree on your property, as most Greater Victoria region city bylaws are in favour of preservation where possible. 

If you want to take down a tree there are a number of factors that come into play like; the size of the tree, proximity to your home, it’s condition, and whether it’s deemed hazardous.

First, find out who you need to contact. The City of Victoria, Districts of Saanich and Langford etc, all have a separate set of regulations and application process. Let’s start with the City of Victoria. 

The Victoria Tree Protection bylaws

The purpose of the Tree Protection Bylaw is to provide for the protection and preservation of trees on private property, including those that are undergoing development. If you would like to prune, remove, or work in the protected zone, a permit may be required. 

What are the conditions for Tree removal in Victoria? 

The same tree protection bylaw outlines the conditions where a tree permit may be issued to cut or remove a bylaw protected tree. For instance, when:

  • a tree is considered hazardous and the risk cannot be mitigated using other methods
  • a tree is causing serious damage to your property
  • a tree is located within the building envelope defined in the issued development or building permit
  • a tree is dead, dying, diseased, or presents a hazard

Learn more about the conditions you need to meet for removing a tree.

See related: Should I Remove a Tree – Pros and Cons

What classifies as a protected tree?

You may need to apply for a tree permit if you are planning to prune or remove a protected tree on your property. Protected trees include:

  • A tree with a diameter over 30 cm
  • A hedge that contains any single stem with a diameter over 30 cm
  • Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) or Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) over 50 cm in height measured above natural grade
  • A replacement tree
  • A tree that is protected by a restrictive covenant in favour of the City
  • A tree of any size that is on a slope where the slope grade is greater than 33 per cent over 10 metres
  • A tree of any size that is within 15 metres of the natural boundary of a watercourse

Are arbutus trees protected in BC?

Arbutus trees are protected in the city of Victoria and Saanich. They cannot be removed without special permits, which may be provided to remove dangerous trees.

Are Garry oak trees protected in BC?

In BC, Garry oak is not grown for timber production; in fact, it is considered an endangered species as it grows mainly on private lands which are being developed for urban dwellings.

What tree species are protected?

Trees Protected – when at least 2m tall or 4cm in diameter:

  • Arbutus
  • Garry Oak
  • Pacific Dogwood
  • Pacific Yew

Trees Protected when- diameter at breast height (1.4m) is 30cm or more:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Grand Fir
  • Big Leaf Maple
  • Western Red Cedar

What about tree pruning?

Generally speaking you do NOT need a permit to perform basic tree pruning on a protected tree when done in accordance with sound arboriculture practices. However, there are some special cases where pruning might require a permit. 

Are you planning to prune: 

  • Branches with a diameter >10 cm 
  • More than 25% of the total live foliage and bud bearing branches?

If yes to either, then a permit is required. 

Also Read: The Advantages of Pruning Trees

In Saanich, you will require a Tree Cutting Permit when pruning a:

  • Significant Tree;
  • Tree protected via a Covenant;
  • Tree’s root system; or to
  • Perform pruning that meets the definition of “altering” a protected tree (as defined in the Bylaw).

Tree Permits in your City

The ATC has put together a great resource on tree permits in Victoria. Please navigate to that page for more information on permits, what you will need and how to apply. 

The Verdict?

If a tree is NOT protected by the city bylaws, then yes you are allowed to prune or remove that tree. 

However, most trees in Greater Victoria fall under that “protected tree” category, so more often than not, you will need to complete a tree permit application.

If you live in Saanich, learn how you can apply to cut down a tree on your property. Langley residents should refer to Langley City Bylaws

Your best source of more information on this topic is going to be the What You Need to Know About the New Tree Protection Bylaw PDF, created by the City of Victoria

Should I remove my tree? Pros and Cons

One of the questions that we are commonly asked is whether or not tree removal is a good idea. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, and it is important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision

At Advantage Tree Care, we understand that trees are an integral part of our ecosystem, that’s why maintaining local trees and urban forests within our city is so important. 

If you are concerned about a tree and think it needs to be removed please contact us and we will arrange an onsite visit to provide a free assessment of the situation and offer you practical advice about the most effective way to move forward. 

Do I actually need to remove the tree?

It could be that your tree is encroaching on your property, either leaning on it, or growing into a hazardous position and you think removing it is your only option. 

Sometimes it is possible to carry out remedial tree work so as to save the tree, which may also turn out to save you money. We understand the value of trees in our environment from both aesthetic and habitat point of view. Removal of any tree is always a last resort. Pruning and other options such as cabling and bracing are always considered first in order to mitigate the risks of the unhealthy tree.

Is the tree a potential hazard?

Just because a tree may pose a risk or hazard, it does not necessarily mean that the whole tree would need to be removed. Depending on the situation there are several options to save the tree, through carrying out preventative maintenance such as pruning of hazardous limbs, weight reduction pruning, as well as cable and bracing. A thorough tree risk assessment will be able to identify your options and costs.

When tree removal is warranted

There are a few scenarios when removal of a tree is acceptable. For instance: 

  1. if the tree is potentially dangerous to the property owner or the general public (when other mitigation options are not possible). 
  2. If the tree has picked up a disease and is dying
  3. if the tree is causing, or will in the near future cause, structure or infrastructure damage 

So what’s the best course of action? 

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The decision of whether or not to remove a tree should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the relevant factors.

With that said, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of tree removal

Advantages 

  • Removing a tree can open up your yard, making it seem larger and more spacious. 
  • It can also increase the amount of sunlight that reaches your home and garden, which can be beneficial for plants. 
  • In some cases, tree removal may be necessary in order to protect your home from storm damage. 
  • If a tree is diseased or dying, removing it can prevent the spread of disease to other trees. 

Disadvantages

  • Tree removal can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars depending on the size and type of tree.Negative impact on the environment.
  • Trees provide habitat for wildlife and help to improve air quality, so removing them can have a negative impact. 
  • trees can add value to your property as they are widely sought after, therefore, removing them may impact the value of your property

Who’s responsible? 

As a property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your trees do not pose a risk to people and property. If you or a neighbour is concerned about the health and safety of a tree, it is recommended that you commission a certified arborist to carry out a tree risk assessment to determine the potential risks and to identify what work can be carried out to help mitigate the risks.

Assessing for safety

As qualified arborists, when we assess trees we are able to begin to understand more about the tree and how much risk it poses to public safety based on its location and general health. Changing environmental conditions, for example, change in soil conditions through drought or excess water logging can have significant impacts on a tree’s health and stability. 

Pruning instead of removing

Tree pruning can be a great alternative to tree removals. The goal is to retain as much of the natural environment as possible, and pruning can help prevent unnecessary tree removals within our beautiful communities. There are a variety of techniques to pruning depending on the given scenario; Structural pruning, Restorative pruning, Tree reductions, Tree thinning & more

Pruning is also especially useful when we are dealing with protected tree species like Garry Oak or Arbutus. 

See Related: What are the main advantages of tree pruning

What about tree permits?

There is a good chance that your tree is protected by city bylaws, if it’s been around for a while. Learn more about tree permits and bylaws in your district. 

The Verdict?

Natural light, aesthetics, property value, cost of removal, dangerous trees, sick trees, trees encroaching on your property – are some of the many things to consider!

This is why tree removal is a tricky subject. On the one hand, trees can provide a number of benefits, including shade, privacy, and beauty. On the other hand, tree removal can be expensive, and it can also have a negative impact on the environment. 

Have questions? Need Help?

While we do remove fallen, damaged, or sick trees, and get rid of tree stumps, we are really a “Tree Care” company. This means maintaining and caring for your trees to extend their lifespan.

The Advantage Tree Care team offers a number of tree care and arborist services to residents all over Greater Victoria and Saanich. From tree removals and pruning, to health inspections and emergency tree services, we’ve got you covered.

How much does it cost to remove a tree in Victoria?

If you’re thinking about removing a tree, the first question you probably have is “how much does it cost to remove a tree?”

The cost of tree removal can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size and location of the tree, as well as the complexity of the job.

Generally speaking, smaller trees can be removed for a few hundred dollars, while larger trees may cost several thousand dollars to remove. In BC you should anticipate paying between $750 and $4,000 for tree removal services and in some circumstances you could be looking at paying significantly over $4,000. 

Factors affecting the cost of Tree Removal

The most important factor after the size of a tree, in determining the cost of tree removal is access

  • Are there hazards, obstacles, valuable property that prevent or hinder ease of access? 
  • Is the tree itself hazardous to access, is the tree alive or dead and does it have any compromised limbs? 
  • Does it require specialized machinery to dismantle and remove the wood? 
  • How close is it to power or service lines? 
  • How close can the chip truck get to the tree floor debris removal?
  • Is there a long distance to have to move the wood once it is on the ground? 

All these factors play into the cost associated with tree removal.

Corners should not be cut when removing a tree. As a result, it is important to get a quote from a qualified tree removal service before having any work done. 

How do we price up our Tree Removal jobs?

In short, these are the factors that we use to determine the costs of a tree removal project 

  • Tree species, height, and diameter 
  • Ease of access
  • On-site hazards and safety concerns
  • What equipment is needed
  • Do we need to consult with the city

Can we help?

Advantage Tree Care provides a wide range of tree services for residential and commercial clients throughout Greater Victoria. We work with all tree removal projects and sizes, from entire site clearance operations through to individual and complex tree removals, please contact us to discuss your tree removal requirements.