Port Coquitlam Strengthens Protection of Trees

PORT COQUITLAM, BC – Nov. 18, 2020… Port Coquitlam is planning to broaden tree protections, increase its tree canopy coverage and raise fines over the coming months as it steps up its efforts to preserve and promote trees.

Next Tuesday, City Council will consider final reading to changes to its tree bylaw that will expand protection for significant trees and include stronger penalties for breaking the rules. The proposed changes are anticipated to protect about 15 per cent more trees and make Port Coquitlam a regional leader in protecting large trees.

“We’re continuing to hone our tree protection tools as we follow through on one of the Council priorities we identified earlier in our term,” noted Mayor Brad West. “These changes are a result of constantly looking for ways to do things better. They’re one of the many steps we’re taking to make Port Coquitlam a more livable and sustainable community for current and future generations.”

The City’s tree bylaw, adopted in February 2019 following two years of research and public consultation, has significantly improved the protection of trees by restricting the cutting of significant trees, expanding the use of tree-cutting permits and requiring replanting of all trees cut or cash-in-lieu. Since adoption, the bylaw has resulted in about 234 trees being planted and collection of $25,000 in fine revenue that will be used to plant about 48 additional trees.

The proposed amendments, which received three of four readings Nov. 10, stem from a staff review and public feedback and are intended to clarify restrictions, address loopholes and protect more trees. Key changes include:

  • Reducing the minimum size for significant trees – which may only be removed if they facilitate development or present a hazard – from 60 centimetres (about 24 inches) in diameter at breast height (DBH) to 45 cm (about 18 in) DBH,
  • Better clarifying when tree removal is prohibited, and when and where tree replacement is required,
  • Raising fines for violations to $500 in most cases, with a discount for early payment,
  • Requiring permits for any tree that is over 15cm DBH or 5m tall, and
  • Considering all trees that are cut without a permit and removed to be treated as a significant tree in terms of penalties.

“Trees bring so many benefits to our community and the environment, including playing a major role in helping to reduce the impact of climate change,” said Cllr. Nancy McCurrach, Council’s designate on climate change issues. “It’s wonderful to be expanding our protection to include more trees in our community and improving our tree canopy coverage.”

The proposed new 45 cm DBH threshold for defining significant trees would provide one of the broadest protections for significant trees in the region.

Under the updated bylaw, the requirement to replace each significant tree with two new ones would continue to only apply to trees larger than 60 cm DBH. As well, fast-growing varieties such as black cottonwood, balsam poplar and trembling aspen continue to be excluded from being considered significant trees based on consultation with arborists and common practice in the region.

The new bylaw will be posted at www.portcoquitlam.ca/trees after adoption.

Additional tree protection efforts will follow. City staff are currently working on strategic options to increase Port Coquitlam’s existing tree canopy coverage to 30 per cent from the current 26 per cent.

These options will be brought forward later this year to inform work on the Urban Forest Management Plan, scheduled to commence in 2021, that will include detailed tree management practices and plans for achieving the tree canopy and an education and engagement plan for residents.

New policies will also be coming forward in early 2021 to provide staff with more tools to consistently apply the tree bylaw.

– 30 –


Pardeep Purewal
Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533
Email purewalp@portcoquitlam.ca