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Under the tree management bylaw, you can remove up to two trees of protected size (20cm or greater stem diameter measured 1.4 off the ground) annually if the trees are not located in a specialized area of Coquitlam (see specialized areas below). If more than two trees are to be removed in that period, you will be required to apply for a tree cutting permit through the City’s Urban Forestry department.
If the tree is located in specialized or sensitive area (below), a tree cutting permit is always required:
Consult your neighbor. If they agree to have the tree removed, obtain an agreement in writing before applying for a tree cutting permit if required with the City. If they refuse to an agreement, have the tree professionally surveyed to determine ownership. The City will not act as a mediator between private property disputes.
In most cases, the City will not remove a tree for nuisance issues. These include leaf drop into gutters and yards, blocking sunlight from reaching your house, or a general dislike of the tree.
The City of Coquitlam believes trees are an important community amenity that provide many benefits and, therefore, the City will not remove trees on City property unless they are a risk to public safety.
You may prune your tree, but you cannot damage your tree. Under the tree management bylaw, trees on private property are protected from being ‘damaged’ in a way which creates hazards for the homeowner and the community. Improper pruning practices such as ‘topping’ or ‘pollarding’ is considered damage and the homeowner may be subject to fines from the City.
If you wish to prune your own tree, consult the Best Management Practices (BMP’s) of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) first to ensure no damage comes to your tree. To ensure proper pruning methods, hire an ISA certified arborist to ensure its health and longevity while training the tree to grow to a desired form.
There are three main points to remember when trimming trees on adjacent properties:
It is often not possible to trim branches back to the property line while simultaneously making a proper pruning cut. This can result in damage to your neighbor’s tree, and you may be held liable. Consult your neighbor before making any cuts, and use an ISA certified arborist to perform any and all tree work. The City of Coquitlam will not act as mediator between neighbours in these instances.
Trees are adapted to respond to forces acting upon them, such as wind. A large mature tree that has been exposed to wind forces throughout its lifetime should be well-adapted to deal with windy weather.
However, recently exposed trees, such as those in urban development areas, may not be well-adapted to wind forces. Look for indications in the surrounding soil such as cracking or heaving to determine if your tree is moving too much in the wind.
If you are concerned with the movement of your tree in the wind, consult an ISA certified arborist to perform a tree risk assessment.
An ISA certified arborist is trained to perform pruning and trimming on trees in a manner that benefits the tree for the long-term. When done correctly, pruning can be one of the best things you can do for your tree. When done incorrectly, it can have long-term consequences on the health and safety of the tree. Only ISA certified arborists are trained and experienced in making the proper cuts to ensure tree health, appearance, and longevity.
The City of Coquitlam does not prune or remove trees on private property.
The first step is to contact your neighbour and discuss your concerns and try to work out an agreement. If unable to contact the property owner directly forward concerns in writing to the registered owner of the property. This information can be found through a land titles search. If you and your neighbor are unable to come to an agreement, it may be helpful to consult the online Civil Resolution Tribunal and attempt to reach a conclusion that satisfies both parties. The City of Coquitlam does not act as a mediator between two private property owners in instances such as this.
If you believe a City-owned tree is dead or dying, or presents a hazard to you, your property, or your neighborhood, please contact Parks Customer Service.
Look for a loss of leaves or discoloration of the leaves in the upper canopy when the tree is in bloom. Identify if there are large dead branches, or detached branches hanging in the tree. Cracks in the trunk or bark, and mushrooms at the base may be a sign of decline. Consult this online resource for additional information. If the tree is on your property, consult an arborist. If the tree is on City property, contact Parks Customer Service.
Many properties in Coquitlam that include a greenbelt or natural area as part of their yard are also adjacent to a steep slope or a stream. The trees on the land, are likely within the Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area (SPEA) or on a ‘steep slope’, both of which restrict the removal of trees and vegetation in order to protect the aquatic and terrestrial organisms that live there, or to maintain slope stability.
Trees adjacent to a creek or stream are an invaluable source of food, protection, and habitat for these organisms. The province of BC and City of Coquitlam must first agree that trees pose a hazard to people or property before their removal can be permitted.
Trees and their root systems growing on a steep slope can be integral to the stability of the slope. Unless the trees is deemed hazardous by an ISA certified arborist, these trees cannot be removed.
We ask that residents with City boulevard trees fronting their property help keep the tree watered during the hot summer months. Young trees in particular need to be watered twice a week during the driest months (July/August). We ask that residents help keep boulevard trees watered while adhering to summertime watering restrictions. City staff will often place watering bags around newly planted trees in the summer but residents can help by re-filling them while watering their lawn or plants. Thank you for your consideration!
Trees planted within the separated boulevard are typically pruned on a schedule and are the responsibility of the City to maintain. Residents cannot prune these trees, and may receive a bylaw violation ticket if they choose to prune a City tree and damage it. Our arborists are ISA certified and trained in making the best cuts to ensure tree health and appearance. If you have concerns contact Parks Customer Service.
Mature boulevard trees not located in separated boulevards are not maintained by the City of Coquitlam and homeowners are responsible for their general upkeep under the Boulevard Maintenance Bylaw. This may include pruning back branches that are encroaching on pedestrians’ access to sidewalks or at entrances to parks. All pruning of City trees must adhere to the Best Management Practices (BMP’s) of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA); the best way to ensure this is to hire an ISA certified arborist.