Tree Management Bylaw

Coquitlam has a tree management bylaw designed to protect trees, regulate cutting and ensure replacement of trees removed. The Bylaw applies to all private properties in Coquitlam.

Tree Cutting Permit

Proper pruning of your tree does not require a permit. However, topping a tree is considered damage and a ticketable offence under Coquitlam’s bylaw. Refer to the chart below to determine if a permit is required to cut down your tree.

Follow the guidelines below to determine if you need a permit to cut down a tree.

Getting a Permit

If tree removal permit is required, submit an Application for Approval to Remove Protected Trees. Additional information for tree cutting permit applicants, including tree replacement requirements, can be found in the Coquitlam Standards for Tree Cutting Permit Applicants.

Tree Replacement

Our community benefits when damaged or removed trees are replaced with new ones. Choosing the right tree to plant is important. The replacement requirements and a list of recommended trees are outlined in the Coquitlam Standards for Tree Cutting – Tree Resource Guide.

Private Property Trees

Pruning your neighbour’s tree branches that overhang onto your property

The City of Coquitlam does not regulate the trimming of trees on private property as long as the trimming does not violate the City’s Tree Management Bylaw.

Trimming a neighbour's overhanging branches

Urban Forestry recommends that you discuss this with your neighbour prior to planning any tree work. There are three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property:

  1. You cannot trespass onto your neighbour's property, even by reaching or hanging over the property line while still standing in your own property.
  2. You cannot damage your neighbour's property (in this case a tree); and 
  3. You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition

It is, therefore, best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves with respect to trees overhanging property lines. This is not something that the City can be involved in.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer. 

​If you choose to prune a neighbouring tree: 

  • The usual scenario is that you are responsible for the cost of such work and for proper clean-up and disposal of pruning debris. 
  • You cannot prune incorrectly nor can you prune in such a way to damage the tree, cause the tree to decline or die or cause the tree to become unsafe. Any of these things are a violation of the Tree Management Bylaw and could result in fines from the City and possible legal action from your neighbour.
  • All pruning should be done by a professional who is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), not by a gardener or a landscaper. Only a certified arborist is qualified to make pruning recommendations and carry out proper pruning. 

You cannot top the tree (or any tree in Coquitlam) or raise the crown excessively as this is also a violation of the Tree Management Bylaw.

Safety or property damage concerns about a tree on a neighbour’s property

If you are concerned that a tree on a neighbouring property is putting your property at risk or has the potential to cause property damage, advise the property owner so that they may take the required action to address the situation. 

Maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner and issues regarding neighbouring trees are a matter between neighbours. Discussion and resolution is recommended. This is not something that the City can be involved in. If you are concerned about the safety of the trees you may wish to discuss the hiring of a "qualified tree risk assessor" with your neighbour. 

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer.

Trees and Development

Trees in Residential Areas

The City would like to take this opportunity to share important information to assist Coquitlam residents n better understanding their responsibilities, as well as the City’s, in relation to tree management in residential areas.

How do I report a tree of concern?

If you are concerned about a tree on public property, such as on park land or on a boulevard, please call the City’s Parks Customer Service line at 604-927-6300 (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.). 

If you are concerned about a tree on private property, such as your property or your neighbours’, please ​read the information here and reference the flowchart below. Any other questions can be referred to either of the contacts provided at the bottom of this page.

What are my responsibilities as a homeowner?

If a tree is on private property, it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure the health and maintenance of the tree. The City’s Tree Bylaw (Bylaw No. 4091, 2010) regulates the conservation, removal and replacement of trees throughout the city. The bylaw also spells out details for obtaining a permit for tree removal. While proper pruning of your tree does not require a permit, cutting a tree may require one. The flowchart below provides guidelines to assist you in knowing if you need a permit to cut down your tree.

How are trees considered in new site developments?

For new development, where a “forest edge” will be created along a protected stream or watercourse, the owner/developer is responsible for ensuring that the edge “effect” resulting from the tree clearing does not put at risk the trees adjacent to the stream. The developer must also work with qualified professionals to ensure Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) compliance.

Through the City’s review and approval process for a housing development area, measures are taken to ensure the Stream Protection Enhancement Area (SPEA) is identified and protected for the purposes of preserving the health and viability of fish habitat and essential natural features. Windfirm trees (those with reduced blowdown risk) are also identified to ensure the integrity of the SPEA.

How does the Building Permit process ensure that the treed areas have been considered?

Building Permit applications for new development must include any applicable SPEA documentation and those areas on the property that are protected, as well as copies of registered covenants including those that identify windfirm boundaries and protected trees. When a building permit is issued, the drawings will contain all such information on them to provide those working on the property, such as Builders,  as well as City staff, the ability to identify and locate protected areas on and adjacent to the property.

What is a Restrictive Covenant?

Restrictive covenant agreements are signed agreements, usually between a property owner and a government agency, such as the City of Coquitlam. Restrictive covenants are registered on the property’s land title and usually specify restrictions on activities or land-use applied to the subject property.

How do I know if I have a Restrictive Covenant on my Land Title?

When an individual is purchasing a property, the realtor has a responsibility to draw attention to the fact there is a Restrictive Covenant on the title, if this is the case; however, there will be no other details or explanation for the Restrictive Covenant.  However, a Land Title search for your property will show what encumbrances are registered on your property, including statutory rights of way and restrictive covenants. You can obtain a copy of your land title from the Land Title Survey Authority at www.ltsa.ca. You can also contact Land Title and Survey Authority Customer Service Centre for the Greater Vancouver area at 604-630-9630.

What is the City doing to manage trees in my area?

Our Urban Forestry section is actively working with residents in identified areas of concern. The Planning and Development department is also involved in addressing issues during both the planning and visioning processes for all future neighbourhoods and through the land development process as noted above. Additional information on neighbourhood planning can be found at coquitlam.ca/burkemtn and coquitlam.ca/communityplans.

Preserving Trees
“Homes are often constructed near existing trees to take advantage of their aesthetic and environmental value. Proper planning and care are needed to preserve trees on building sites.” Article:Avoiding Tree Damage During Construction (Source: Trees Are Good)
 
An ISA Certified Arborist can work with you to determine tree removal feasibility and recommend actions for removal or fencing of trees.
 
For more information about trees and construction refer to our:

Tree Care

“Think of tree care as an investment. A healthy tree increases in value with age and pays big dividends by increasing property values, beautifying our surroundings, purifying our air, and saving energy by providing cool shade from summer’s heat and protection from winter’s wind.” Article: Mature Tree Care (Source: Trees Are Good)

Consult an ISA Certified Arborist for information regarding proper pruning practices and/or refer to the basic pruning guidelines in our Coquitlam Standards for Tree Cutting – Tree Resource Guide. 

Don't Overprune

 

Contact Us 

If you have any further questions, please contact: 

If you have concerns regarding trees on City property, please contact: