The City of Victoria has voted to amend its tree preservation bylaws in order to increase the city’s urban forest.
In a council meeting on Thursday, councillors adopted several significant amendments to the existing bylaw.
Firstly, trees which were once protected at a diameter of 80 centimetres have now been pared down to 30 cm or more at a height of 1.4 metres. Anything that size will now require a permit to be removed.
City staff report that this reduction will protect approximately 50 per cent more of the existing private tree population.
New fees were put in place for the tree removal process; property owners will have to pay a $50 permit fee and provide the City with a $700 security deposit in the form of cash or a letter of credit for each replacement tree, or protected seedling.
If a property owner cannot replace the tree on the same property due to size constraints, they are required to pay a $2,000 cash-in-lieu to the City for the replacement of each tree.
Only Coun. Geoff Young was opposed to these amendments, saying it adds too much of a burden on owners.
“It has surprising consequence in terms of removing the possibility of garden suites for a lot of properties … it will, in general, make redevelopment more difficult,” Young said. “What it will do is send a message that because of these consequences, trees are really things that are likely to devalue your property.”
The amendments passed 7-1. These bylaws will affect any applications which came in after Oct. 24.