Tree Management Within and Adjacent to Streamside Protection and Enhancement Areas (SPEAs)

The City of Coquitlam is exploring a new approach to tree management within and adjacent to Streamside Protection and Enhancement Areas (SPEAs). Recent severe weather events involving hazardous trees falling have highlighted the need to review the City’s approach to tree management in these areas.

Tree Management Approach

The City’s objective is to improve public safety and enhance the management of SPEAs. This new approach to tree management – which would apply citywide – would involve the transfer of SPEA lands, adjacent windfirm areas (trees able to withstand strong wind that protect the SPEA), and adjacent trail corridors (if applicable) to the City for ownership as part of the rezoning process.

Developers would still be responsible for completing tree management requirements under the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR), a provincial regulation. Beyond this, the City would manage these areas to reduce the risk of hazardous trees falling or being a risk to public safety. This includes tree inventories and assessments, hazardous tree mitigation, tree replanting, and invasive species management. Because the management needs are highest in the first five years after development, the work would be offset by a voluntary financial contribution, to be provided by the developer.

The approach would apply to development applications involving both a Rezoning and a Watercourse Protection Development Permit, in which the RAR detailed assessment methodology is used. In addition to the currently required RAR detailed assessment report, developers would also have to submit:

  • A windfirm assessment, to assess the forest stability of the SPEA and identify if an adjacent windfirm area is needed to improve the stability of the SPEA; and 
  • A five-year management plan and contribution estimate (to cover the cost of the five-year plan). 

Permanent fencing and signage would be installed by the developer at the boundary of the SPEA and windfirm areas and a covenanted Root Protection Buffer would be established to ensure protection of the trees. Temporary fencing would also be needed to protect the roots of trees during tree cutting, site clearing, and construction.

Exemptions may apply to developers who can demonstrate, through a Registered Professional Forester, that the post-development SPEA will be windfirm without additional work required by the City.

SPEA and Windfirm Area Outcome Drawing

SPEA and Windfirm Area Outcome Drawing

Bylaw Amendments

Implementation of the above tree management approach would involve amendments to the Citywide Official Community Plan, the Zoning Bylaw, and adoption of a City Policy to do the following:

  • Apply the Watercourse Protection Development Permit Area citywide;
  • Require that a windfirm assessment be submitted with a Watercourse Protection Development Permit application, unless exempted;
  • Clarify technical definitions; and
  • Outline the method for calculating lot area for single-family residential zones and density for multi-family residential zones when windfirm areas are transferred to City ownership; and
  • Outline the processes of SPEA land transfer to the City and the voluntary financial contribution.

Background Documents and Links