Forest Planning and Health

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Tree canopy

A healthy urban forest improves the quality of life for City of Burlington residents. By providing a framework for protection and enhancement of all trees on public and private property, the City of Burlington’s urban forest will continue to grow with the goal to reach 35 per cent tree canopy cover by 2041. A multi-faceted approach is required to meet this goal, which is addressed through the four guiding principles:

Proposed Guiding Principles for Tree Protection and Enhancement

• Tree Planting and Replacement

• Protection and Preservation

• Asset Maintenance

• Community Outreach, Education, and Collaboration

The trees within Burlington's

A healthy urban forest improves the quality of life for City of Burlington residents. By providing a framework for protection and enhancement of all trees on public and private property, the City of Burlington’s urban forest will continue to grow with the goal to reach 35 per cent tree canopy cover by 2041. A multi-faceted approach is required to meet this goal, which is addressed through the four guiding principles:

Proposed Guiding Principles for Tree Protection and Enhancement

• Tree Planting and Replacement

• Protection and Preservation

• Asset Maintenance

• Community Outreach, Education, and Collaboration

The trees within Burlington's urban forest provide a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits, including improved air quality, reduced storm-water runoff, energy savings, noise reduction, natural bird and wildlife habitats, higher property values and overall beautification of city streets and parks.

The city's Urban Forestry section is responsible for the city’s ongoing operations and maintenance of municipally-owned trees, Forest planning and health, and Forest Protection. Key programs include: preventative maintenance through Grid Pruning, Tree Planting and Stumping programs, and the administration of public and private tree protection bylaws.

We are very proud of our trees, especially those with historical significance on the Burlington Honour Roll of Trees. Whenever possible, we involve the public in the consultation process and surveys.

  • Free tree giveaway

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    The tree giveaway is now full, there are no longer anymore trees available.

    The City of Burlington is giving away 500 trees to residents. The trees are free but residents will need to register and select their preferred tree from 10 types of trees.

    Types and quantities are limited to first registered, first served. One tree per address.

    Date: Sept. 24, 2022

    Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pick-up time is dependent on species selected

    Location: Roads, Parks and Forestry Operations Centre, 3330 Harvester Rd., Burlington

    Trees will be between four and seven feet tall. Please ensure you can safely transport the trees. A City staff member will place the tree into your vehicle.

  • Free Burlap banding demonstrations

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    Residents and tree enthusiasts are welcome to attend a free “burlap banding” demonstration that will be held at three parks in Burlington on June 11. A forestry expert will show participants the materials needed and the steps to create the simple, yet effective method of burlap banding.

    Burlap banding is an effective way to help reduce the population and damage done by spongy moths.

    Registration is not required. Demonstrations will happen rain or shine.

    Session #1

    • Location: Kilbride Park, 2175 Blessington St.
    • Time: 8:30 a.m.

    Session #2

    Session #3

    • Location: Sherwood Forest Park, east side. Enter from Fothergill Boulevard, off Burloak Drive
    • Time: 12:30 p.m.


  • Corporate Tree Protection and Enhancement Policy

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    The Corporate Tree Protection and Enhancement Policy was presented and approved by the Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee on February 3 (Council to approve later this month)

    The development of a corporate-wide tree protection and enhancement policy provides a framework for the improvement of several bylaws, policies, guidelines, and city-wide programs, so they are clear and consistent in their approach and aligned with the City’s strategic direction as it pertains to the Urban Forest.

    The Corporate Tree Protection and Enhancement Policy is organized into 4 categories
    with corresponding policy statements which inform each category:
    1. Preserve and Protect
    2. Maintain and Monitor
    3. Establish, Replace and Enhance
    4. Engage and Collaborate

    The establishment of a corporate wide tree protection and enhancement policy will provide a framework for the consistent management of the City’s Urban Forest. Long term, this will support the City’s Vision to Focus goal of achieving 35% canopy cover by 2041, and in doing so, will directly benefit the City’s efforts toward fighting the effects of climate change.

    Read the full report

  • Forest Protection FAQ's

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Thanks for all of the questions and comments we received through both the Get Involved Burlington platform, Service Burlington and during the Oct 28 Virtual Public Information Centre. Please see the FAQ below for responses to some common questions. If you don't see the answer to your question, please contact Service Burlington at 905-335-7777 or city@burlington.ca

    Q - Has the tree by-law resulted in an increase in Burlington's tree canopy since its inception and what is the predicted annual change?

    A - An analysis of the urban tree canopy has not been completed since the private tree bylaw has been enacted (January 2020). The Forestry Department will be embarking on an update to the Urban Forest Master Plan (20-year plan) in January 2022. At that time, canopy analysis will be completed to determine relative canopy coverage City-wide as well as other indicators of Urban Forest Health. Metrics identified within the Urban Forest Master Plan will assist in developing programs and/or by-laws to achieve the City's goal by 2041 of 35%.

    Q - Should there be an accommodation for property owners whom already exceed the City's canopy goal, or have a different approach to replanting conditions due to space limitations?

    A - Staff are investigating the feasibility of evaluating existing canopy cover and retained canopy cover (post-tree removal) with the use of GIS technologies. Analysis of the net impact to the subject property and neighbouring properties is a consideration. Similarly, staff are investigating the feasibility of stocking value of a given property (how many trees a property can reasonably grow) which will be used in the determination of compensation requirements.

    Q - Can trees be planted on another property? Especially when there is a privacy loss when trees are removed?

    A - Currently replacement trees are planted on the subject property where they are removed. Staff are reviewing the ability to plant on alternative properties. Tree planting initiatives that are funded by cash-in-lieu dollars collected as part of the private tree by-law, provide a process whereby private land owners will be able to come forth to obtain a tree (or trees) for their property. This program is aimed to launch in spring 2022.

    Q – Why do you need a permit or have to pay for trees that are diseased or a hazard and need to be removed?

    A - The current Private Tree By-law already has exemption clauses for dead, terminally diseased and high risk or imminently hazardous trees. These trees are not subject to a permit fee nor compensation requirements. The metrics collected through the issuance of a permit provides the City with a means to understand how the City's canopy is changing and provides an idea of potential pests and diseases or other tree related issues which will inform planning and health related programs. Staff do note that the City's property standards by-law also has provisions in place for hazard trees to ensure safety. An order under this by-law can be issued to remove the hazard from your property. There is currently no City funding to subsidize the cost of maintenance for privately owned trees on private properties.

    Q - Is there certain criteria for trees that are growing in the wrong place?

    A - Certain criteria would need to be met to be considered 'the wrong tree'. The City is reviewing certain aspects within the By-law as it pertains to maintenance.

    Q - Are regulations applied to property developers who are prone to take down all sorts of trees in their projects?

    A - Single family residential construction and other smaller scale construction projects are regulated by the City's private tree bylaw. Multi-unit residential developments and larger scale construction are regulated by site plan approval and other applicable law under the Planning Act. Site plan guidelines must be followed for these applications which include provisions for compensation for tree loss. Where trees are proposed to be removed to facilitate a new build, a plan for replacement would be identified with the application which can be in the form of replacement trees or cash-in-lieu payment.

    Q- Is there an opportunity for local businesses to support forestry initiatives?
    A - Forestry staff are actively seeking out areas within commercial zones to plant trees within the municipal right of way. In future, it is the intent to collaborate with local businesses to plant trees and naturalize areas of their campus to increase the urban tree canopy.

    Q - What enforcement measures are done to make sure developers adhere to the by-law?

    A - Forest Protection Staff investigate matters that pertain to violations of the private and public tree by-law. There are current provisions set out in both by-laws for ensuring compliance. Staff brought forward recommendations in May for Council to consider on improving enforcement within the private tree by-law. Single family residential construction is regulated by the City's private tree by-law and all applications are reviewed against the requirements.

    Q - Norway maples are an invasive species and could impede the growth of other native species. Why is it not acceptable to remove these trees without paying a fee or permit from homeowners private properties? Will the context of these tree removals be taken into consideration?

    A - Staff understand there are concerns with Norway Maples. Norway Maples were planted widely in many municipalities including Burlington as it was a reliable species for street side landscapes due to its tolerance to a variety of soil types, quick establishment, along with several other characteristics. Norway Maples make up a large amount of the City's current canopy both on public and private property. Removal of Norway Maples without the need for replacement requirements would not be in keeping with the City's canopy targets. Staff understand there is the ability for these species to establish in naturalized areas (e.g., woodlands, or ravines) and become invasive and outcompete native species. The current by-law has a provision for exempting the removal of invasive species as identified within the Invasive Species Act and Weed Control Act. Currently Norway Maple is not listed as a prohibited or restricted species under either Act. Careful consideration will need to be made when determining the approach to this tree species and altering current requirements under the by-laws. Staff are also looking into developing a replanting list of suitable species that homeowners can use a guide.


  • November 22 at 1:00 p.m. Council Workshop

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    This meeting is a workshop and no delegations will be registered. Only staff directions and motions to receive and file will be permitted. Visit the City Meeting calendar to view the workshop.

  • The Recording of the Forest Protection Public Information session is Now Available

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    For those that may have missed the Virtual Public Information session on October 28, the recording is now available. For closed captioning, use the CC icon.

  • Public Engagement Opportunities

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    We are looking for public input on proposed Tree Protection and Enhancement Guiding Principles as well as proposed amendments to the Private Tree Bylaw. We are requesting feedback from residents, businesses, developers and forestry professionals on the proposed policy statements and bylaw amendments.

    There are two opportunities to provide feedback: online survey and online public information session.

    The online survey is open now until Nov. 12, 2021 in the Survey section of this page

    Online Public information session:

    Date: Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021
    Time: 7 to 8:30 p.m.
    Location: Online.


  • Private Tree Bylaw Update #2

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    Forestry staff provided a supplementary report to support the May 6th committee meeting. At that time, staff received direction from council to consider 15 amendments to the existing Private Tree By-law, related to Policy, processes, and program administration

  • Private Tree Bylaw Update #1

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    Forestry staff provided an update to Council as to the status of the current City of Burlington Private Tree By-law 02-2020 within the Urban Boundary and highlighted proposed improvements for consideration.

  • Private Tree Bylaw Public Information Sessions

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    The City of Burlington is hosting a series of public information sessions to help residents and businesses learn about the newly adopted Private Tree Bylaw. The information sessions will be held in various parts of the City at both afternoon and evening times to better accommodate people’s schedules.

    Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020
    Appleby Ice Centre, Community Room 1
    1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

    Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020
    Central Arena, Auditorium
    1 to 3 p.m.

    Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020
    Burlington Seniors’ Centre, Freeman and Indian Point Rooms
    7 to 9 p.m.

    Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020
    Aldershot Arena, Community Room
    7 to 9 p.m.

    Registration is not necessary. Presentation and Q&A will begin 15-minutes after start-times.

    The sessions will cover when a permit is required, when it is not, replacement trees and costs. Participants will also be able to ask questions to Forestry staff.

    About the Private Tree Bylaw

    As of Jan. 27, 2020, anyone within the City’s urban boundary will need to apply online for a permit and on-site consultation to remove a tree greater than 20 cm in diameter (8”) measured at 1.4 m from the ground, or if you would like to remove more than five trees between 10 and 20 cm (4-8”) measured at 1.4 m from the ground in a calendar year. Heritage trees and endangered species are also protected.






Page last updated: 11 Nov 2022, 09:34 AM