The following City initiatives support Delta’s dedication to protect trees and increase our urban forest:
Trees have a wide range of environmental and human benefits:
- Carbon storage: Trees combat the greenhouse effect by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it as cellulose1.
- Wildlife habitat: Trees provide food and habitat for a range of wildlife, birds and pollinators including migratory birds, raptors and bees. Treed streets, woodlots and natural areas form a green network throughout the city for ecological connectivity and wildlife movement.
- Reduction of urban flooding: Branches and leaves catch rainwater, trees take up water from the soil, and tree roots improve infiltration of rainwater into the soil2.
- Erosion reduction: Tree roots provide slope stability.
- Heatwave mitigation: Transpiration and shade from tree canopies reduces temperatures during heatwaves3.
- Shade: Trees can significantly reduce the UV-B exposure of people beneath the tree canopy. Shade also helps to protect hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt from drying and cracking.
- Energy savings: Air conditioning and heating needs can be reduced when trees are planted near buildings4.
- Noise pollution mitigation: Tree can reduce noise pollution when planted in groups or as hedges5.
- Air quality: Trees improve air quality by absorbing polluting gases like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone6. Trees also remove particulates like dust, ash pollen and smoke from the airshed by trapping them on their bark and leaves.
- Human health: Trees have been shown in studies7 to:
1Y. Pan, R.A. Birdsey, J. Fang, R. Houghton, P.E. Kauppi, W.A. Kurz, O.L. Phillips, A. Shvidenko, S.L. Lewis, J.G. Canadell, P. Ciais, R.B. Jackson, S.W. Pacala, A.D. McGuire, S. Piao, A. Rautiainen, S. Sitch and D. Hayes. 2011. A large and persistent carbon sink in the world’s forests. Science 333: 988-993.
2Bartens, J., S.D. Day, J.R. Harris, J.E. Dove and T.M. Wynn. 2008. Can urban tree roots improve infiltration through compacted subsoils for stormwater management? Journal of Environmental Quality 37: 2048-2057.
3Kurn, D.M., S.E. Bretz, B. Huang and H. Akbari. 1994. The potential for reducing urban air temperatures and energy consumption through vegetative cooling. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/10180633.
4Huang, Y.J., Akbari, H. and Taha, H. 1990. The wind-shielding and shading effects of trees on residential heating and cooling requirements. ASHRAE Proceedings 96 (pt. 1).
5Varshney, C.K. and I. Mitra. 1993. Importance of hedges in improving urban air quality. Landscape and Urban Planning 25: 75-83.
6Nowak, D.J., D.E. Crane and J.C. Stevens. 2006. Air pollution removal by urban trees and shrubs in the United States. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 4: 115-123.
7Donovan, G.H., D.T. Butry, Y.L. Michael, J.P. Prestemon, A.M. Liebhold, D. Gatziolis and M.Y. Mao. 2013. The relationship between trees and human health: evidence from the spread of the emerald ash borer. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 44(2): 139-145.
8Taylor, A.F., F.E. Kuo, and W.C. Sullivan. 2001. Coping with ADD: The Surprising Connection to Green Play Settings. Environment and Behavior 33:54-77.
9Parsons, R., L.G. Tassinary, R.S. Ulrich, M.R. Hebl, and M. Grossman-Alexander. 1998. The View from the Road: Implications for Stress Recovery and Immunization. Journal of Environmental Psychology 18, 2:113–140.
10Burden, D. 2006. Urban street trees: 22 Benefits, Specific Applications. https://www.walkable.org/download/22_benefits.pdf.
11Ulrich, R.S. 1984. View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science 4647: 420-421.
Urban Reforestation Project is an active tree planting initiative launched by the City in 2015 to increase Delta’s tree canopy coverage at a variety of park, school and street corridor sites. To support the natural ecosystem, at least 67% of the trees planted under the Urban Reforestation Project will be native species with lifespans from 50 to 100 years.
Trees for Tomorrow is a City program that invites Delta homeowners to request one or two trees to be planted on municipal property, immediately adjacent to the side and/or in front of your property. Residents get to choose the tree(s), and as long as the chosen tree is a suitable fit for the property, Delta will purchase and plant it for you! We need all participants to commit to watering the new trees after planting as this is an essential part of the program's success. See below for information on how to participate.
How the Community can Help Grow our Urban Forest – Trees for Tomorrow
Help us grow Delta's urban forest and sign up for the City of Delta's FREE Trees for Tomorrow program. You choose the tree(s), we plant them where they will be safe and thrive, and you water them for three years until they are established.
How does it work?
- Choose a tree or trees that you would like planted from the list of eligible trees.
- Complete the Trees for Tomorrow application form.
- Mail, fax, scan and email, or drop off the application form as noted on the form.
- Delta staff will ensure the site is suitable for the tree(s) you've chosen and you will be called if there are any concerns.
- Delta staff will contact BC One Call and confirm there are no utility conflicts.
- Delta staff will plant the tree, stabilize it and provide additional soil as required.
- You will water and care for the tree(s) as directed and let Delta know if any concerns arise.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the City’s Engineering Department at 604-946-3260.
Delta also depends on residents to help care for the trees on their property and in their neighbourhoods. Proper tree care, including pruning, is important to improve and maintain the health of our trees for years to come. Trees on private property must be pruned in accordance with arboriculture standards as per the Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw. City fines may be applied for trees on residential property that are damaged or excessively pruned.
To ensure your tree is properly pruned, you can hire a certified arborist to do the pruning for you. Search for a certified arborist on the International Society of Arboriculture website. When looking for your own arborist, it is important to ensure the person is certified, they have insurance and they are familiar with Delta’s bylaws.
Things to Avoid: Tree Topping
Topping is one of the most harmful tree pruning practices and is not permitted as per the Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw. Topping involves cutting of the whole tops of trees, including large branches, trunks and/or main leaders.
Check out our Removing Trees section below for information on the pruning and removing of trees on private property.
What is an Urban Forest and Why Does it Matter?
Delta’s urban tree forest includes every tree in our city – on streets, in parks, public spaces, and back yards. Our urban forest plays critical environmental and social roles: it cleans the air, absorbs rainwater, reduces air temperatures, provides bird habitat, and improves our health and well-being.
Find out how to apply for a tree removal permit and the requirements to remove a tree in Delta.
Delta’s Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw helps preserve trees in Delta and supports the enhancement of Delta’s overall tree canopy. Before removing or pruning a tree on your property or before commencing a construction project, it’s important to ensure that you are familiar with Delta’s tree protection requirements. There are costly penalties for removing or damaging a tree that is protected under the bylaw. Learn more about the requirements to remove a tree in Delta below in the Trees on Your Property section and the Apply for a Tree Removal Permit section.
Updates to Delta’s Tree Bylaw (Effective December 13, 2021)
- Increased tree removal permit fees: Fees were increased to help cover the administrative costs of reviewing and processing tree removal permit applications. See Tree Removal Permit Fees below.
- Increased tree replacement requirements: For most situations, the number of replacement trees required has increased to help offset the loss of ecosystem services provided by the cut tree. Of particular note, removal of one Large Diameter Tree in 24 months will now require a replacement tree. A Large Diameter Tree is 60 cm in diameter or greater (188 cm in circumference) at 1.4 metres above the ground. See Tree Replacement Requirements below.
- Increased cash-in-lieu and security amount: The cash-in-lieu of tree replacement and security amount is now $700. This amount is meant to cover the City’s cost to purchase and plant a replacement tree and to water for three years to establish the tree.
- Allowance for hedges: If the trees in your hedge have a trunk diameter of 20 cm or greater, every 5 linear metres of the hedge will be considered as one tree for the purpose of permitting fees and tree replacement requirements. A tree removal permit is not required for hedge trees smaller than 20 cm diameter.
- Allowance for alder/cottonwood removal: One alder, poplar or cottonwood tree may now be removed in 24 months in addition to one other tree.
Do not prune or remove trees on City property. Trees on City property, including trees in parks and along streets, are pruned and maintained by certified arborists based on a City schedule.
Removing, pruning or damaging trees on City property is illegal and may result in fines under Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw.
To request pruning or removal of trees on City property, please contact the Engineering Department at 604-946-3260 or complete an online service request that includes the reason for the request.
How can I tell if a tree is on private or City property?
Properties in Delta may have a City boulevard property adjacent to their yard. The boulevard is the area between the shoulder of a roadway and a private property line. You can use DeltaMap to try and determine if a tree is on private property or municipal boulevard property. Search your address and turn on the ‘Orthophoto’ layer to view an aerial photograph of your property with property lines.
The City of Delta does not support tree removals based on the following:
- City tree is shedding debris such as needles, leaves or fruit
- City tree debris is clogging your gutters
- City tree casts too much shade to your home, garden or is causing moss to grow on your roof or lawn
- City tree is lifting your fence
- City tree roots are on the surface of your lawn
- City tree is blocking your scenic view
The City of Delta will assess City tree removal requests based on the following:
- City tree is dead, diseased, in decline, or beyond an expectation of recovery
- City tree has been assessed as structurally unsound and has unacceptable risk
- City tree is conflicting with utilities and no alternative measure can be performed
If your private property tree is protected by the Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw, a valid Tree Removal Permit is required to remove the tree. Protected trees include:
- All trees that measure 20 cm (8 in) in diameter or greater when measured 1.4 m (4.6 ft) above ground or the combined diameters of the largest two or three stems is at least 20 cm in diameter.
- Trees that were planted as required replacement trees.
The first application for a Tree Removal Permit for a single tree within a 24-month period does not require an arborist report. If the tree is a Large Diameter Tree (60 cm or greater diameter), then one replacement tree is required. Subsequent applications within a 24-month period or applications for removing multiple trees require an arborist report and replacement trees.
An arborist report must be completed by an ISA-certified arborist (international Society of Arboriculture). Search for a certified arborist on the International Society of Arboriculture website. The report must highlight the tree(s) to be removed, the reason for removal and a tree replacement plan.
Tree Removal Permit applications for trees located on steep slopes, located within a Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area, protected by a restrictive covenant or similar agreement registered on the title of the property, or planted as a replacement tree as a condition of a previous permit, may not be approved as per Delta Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw.
Replacement trees are required as a condition of most Tree Removal Permits. The number of replacement trees you need depends on the size and species of the tree you are removing. However, no replacement tree is required for the removal of one tree smaller than 60 cm diameter or an alder, cottonwood or poplar on a property in a 24 month period.
Replacement trees help to compensate for the environmental and community benefits that the removed trees provided. Replacement trees must be planted on private property, not the City boulevard.
In some cases, it is less expensive to plant replacement trees on your property than to provide cash-in-lieu to the City to plant replacement trees elsewhere. The purpose of this financial incentive is to replace trees in the same area as they were removed, for the benefit of the neighbourhood and local wildlife.
Tree Cut Minimum Number of Replacement Trees if Planting on Site Minimum Number of Replacement Trees if Providing Cash in Lieu 20-59 cm diameter 2 3 (=$2,100) 60+ cm diameter (Large Diameter Tree) 3 4 (=$2,800) Alder, cottonwood or poplar, regardless of size 2 2 (=$1,400) 1 tree in 24 months 0 0 1 alder, cottonwood or poplar in 24 months 0 0 1 Large Diameter Tree in 24 months 1 1 (=$700)
Replacement trees must be a minimum of 7.0 caliper if a deciduous tree or 3.0 m in height if a coniferous tree.
The Tree Removal Permit fee structure is a “cost recovery” model that is designed to cover the costs of administering the program. The fees cover the administration of the bylaw and are based on the level of effort and resources required for the review process.
Application for removing of one tree on a property within a 24-month period $100.00 Application to remove more than one tree on a property within a 24-month period $100.00 application fee plus $50.00 per tree to be cut Application for removing each 5 metre linear section of a hedge $100.00 application fee plus $50.00 per tree to be cut
To apply for a Tree Removal Permit, you need to:
- Verify the tree is on your private property, not on the municipal boulevard or neighbour’s property.
- Trees located within neighbouring properties require a signed letter of authorization from the registered owner(s).
- Complete the online Tree Removal Permit Application.
You will be notified once your Tree Removal Permit application is reviewed and approved. Tree Removal Permits are valid for six months from the day they are issued and must be clearly displayed (e.g. in front window or door and clearly visible from the street) during tree removal.
If you are developing a property (e.g. building permit, development permit, rezoning or subdivision) then tree protection will be considered as part of your development application. The tree requirements for your application must be complete before the City can issue your permits. See the City’s Building/Development Site Tree Protection section below for more information.
Trees on Neighbouring Private Property
Trees on neighbouring private property may impact your property. Arrangements for the pruning and maintenance of these trees must be worked out between neighbours. The City does not get involved.
Multi-family Strata Properties
Multi-family properties with common property (as defined by the Strata Property Act) can apply for a Tree Removal Permit to remove one tree per 4000 m2 (1 acre) in a 24-month period without requiring an arborist’s report. A tree management plan prepared by a qualified person is required with the application to demonstrate the property’s commitment to tree maintenance, replacement, and long-term planning.
In addition to above requirements, the following documents are required:
- Proof of Strata Council approval for tree removal (e.g. copy of strata minutes).
- If this is the first application for removing a single tree on the property within a 24-month period, no additional documents are required.
- If this is the first application to remove one tree per 4,000 m2 (1 acre) within a 24-month period, a tree management plan prepared by a qualified person is required.
- If this is a subsequent application within a 24-month period, an arborist report is required to confirm a valid reason for tree removal and to provide a replacement tree plan.
- Verify the tree is on your private property, not on the municipal boulevard or neighbour’s property.
If you are developing a property (e.g. building permit, development permit, rezoning or subdivision) then tree protection will be considered as part of your development application. The tree requirements for your application must be complete before the City can issue your permits. If your development application is approved, a tree removal permit will be issued concurrent with other permits.
Tree protection requirements exist to make sure:
Trees are not damaged during construction and demolition activities
Trees are not removed unnecessarily
Removed trees are replaced
For trees on development sites, please note the following important information:
- Trees should not be cut in advance of submitting your development application.
- Trees 20 centimetres (8.0 inches) in diameter or greater should not be removed without a tree removal permit.
- Tree protection is a condition of most development approvals and is the responsibility of the owner/developer.
- Trees to be protected, including trees on adjacent streets and properties, must be identified on all plans and submitted for permits.
- Efforts should be made to retain as many trees as possible on the property. In most cases, a report about trees on the property, prepared by a certified arborist, is required.
- Where trees are approved to be cut, the minimum replacement ratio is as shown in the Tree Replacement Table above.
- Retained trees are to be protected by fencing, that meets Delta's standards, prior to any building, demolition, servicing works or construction
- Demolition and building permits will be issued only after a successful inspection of tree protection measures.
- If trees have been damaged during the development process, or removed without a permit, or any other contravention of a development approval occurs, possible implications include stop work orders, delays in construction, replacement tree requirements, and fines.
- In cases where new tree planting is required, security will be taken at the time of permit issuance.
- Tree protection barriers are not to be removed until the Building Inspector gives approval to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Tree Removal Permit is required for any tree with a trunk diameter of 20 cm or greater. The tree bylaw does not apply to properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
You can calculate the diameter of your tree by measuring its circumference at a height of 1.4 metres above the ground, divided by pi. Measurements should be in centimetres. City staff will also accept the circumference measurement and will calculate the diameter for you.
i. Example 1: Circumference of tree trunk at 1.4 m height = 62.8 cm. Diameter = 62.8 cm ÷ 3.14 = 20 cm.
ii. Example 2: Circumference of tree trunk at 1.4 m height = 188.4 cm. Diameter = 188.4 cm 3.14 = 60 cm.Image
Replacement trees are required if you have applied to remove more than 1 tree at a property in 24 months or if the tree is a Large Diameter Tree (60 cm or greater diameter). See Tree Replacement Requirements above for details.
No, but the tree should be pruned following the standards of the International Society of Arboriculture. Topping a tree is not allowed and neither is excessive pruning.
Yes, but the tree bylaw now has reduced replacement requirements for hedge trees. Every 5 metre linear section of a hedge is treated as one tree for the purposes of permitting fees and tree replacement requirements.
If a tree has been severely damaged by a natural cause and is not likely to survive, or if the tree is in imminent danger of falling and causing injury to people or structures and the City has been notified of the danger, the tree can be removed without a permit. Risk of danger should be assessed by a qualified person, which means an arborist who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture and includes a Certified Tree Risk Assessor. If the tree is located on private property, the arborist is hired by the owner.
The first thing you should do is speak with your neighbour about your concerns with the trees. They are not obligated to prune or prevent the tree growth from entering your property’s air space, but they may be receptive to assist with the work. You may also prune any encroaching branches back to the property line as long as you don’t trespass into the other property and the pruning is done with care in a manner that does not injure or cause the tree to decline. We suggest you consult with a private arborist or visit the International Society of Arboriculture for proper pruning tips.
The City of Delta does not get involved in private civil matters of this nature.
The main distribution lines which run parallel along roadways are maintained by BC Hydro and any conflicting trees are pruned by BC Hydro contractors. The City of Delta does not prune trees that are encroaching power lines.
The secondary service lines that run into your home are the responsibility of the homeowner with respect to tree branches and maintaining clearance. If a city tree is in conflict with your service line, please contact us and we will assess.
Yes, Delta will install a watering bag on new city owned trees for the first 3 years. If you have a new tree and have not received a bag by late June, please call 604-946-3260. If you have an older tree of 3+ years, Delta can provide a bag at your request and we ask that you assist in watering.
The first 3 years are critical for the establishment and we encourage your assistance to fill the watering bags twice a week during the summer months. Deep watering will help the roots grow and the tree to thrive.
Tree bags are designed to hold 15 gallons of water which slowly disperse through two small holes at the bottom. Typically the water is fully released within a few hours and soaked into the root ball. If you see damage or believe the bag is not draining, please call 604-946-3260.
We believe the Urban Forest is a valuable public asset which benefits the whole community and we can all help grow it. If you're on a water meter you may be surprised to learn that with each 15 gallons of tree water, its only 0.6 cents on your meter.
We have added bark mulch to the base of the tree which helps the soil retain moisture, it suppresses weed competition and helps keep damaging lawn equipment away from the trunk. Please don't remove the mulch or pile it high on the trunk and avoid planting anything at the base that will compete for water.