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Why do I need a tree cutting permit to cut a tree on my own property?
Why do I need a tree cutting permit to cut a tree that I planted myself?


How do I make an application?
How long does it take to get tree cutting permit?


Why do I have to pay a permit fee?
Why do I have to pay a refundable security fee and plant a new tree?


There is a tree on City property that I want cut, pruned, moved, etc.


I live in a strata, how do I make a tree cutting permit application?


It is obvious that my tree could blow over at any time, why do I need a permit?


My tree is damaging my property. Can I cut it down?


My neighbour has a tree that overhangs my yard. What can I do about this?


My neighbour’s tree is damaging my property. What can I do?
My neighbour’s tree is threatening my property. What can I do?


I am planning to buy a property or rebuild/improve my home. There are
protected trees on my lot and street trees near the sidewalk and trees on the
neighbour’s property. How does this affect me?


I am planning to renovate my property/landscape. The trees I want to remove
are not ‘protected trees’ according to the code. Do I need a tree removal permit
to remove small trees and other ornamental trees?


I am planting my trees, as required by my tree cutting permit. Can I plant the
trees anywhere on my property?


Who do I call if I see trees being cut without a permit or being topped or
improperly pruned?
Q. Why do I need a tree cutting permit to cut a tree on my
                     own property?

 Q. Why do I need a tree cutting permit to cut a tree that I
                       planted myself?


                           Answer:
 The City of Surrey has a bylaw which requires that removal of
trees over a certain diameter and trees of a specific species
must have a tree cutting permit. The Tree Protection Bylaw,
2006 No. 16100, is available in its entirety at the City of Surrey
website at www.surrey.ca (City Bulletin Reference: Tree Bylaw
Introduction and Overview).

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Q. How do I make an application?

Q. How long does it take to get tree cutting permit?



                                       Answer:
You can pick up an tree cutting permit application at the building counter at City
Hall or you can print the application form from a link on our webpage which can be
found by going to www.surrey.ca and clicking on Search in the upper right-hand
corner and entering tree protection bylaw or you can type:
www.surrey.ca/Doing+Business/Land+Development+and+Building/Tree+Protection
+Bylaw.htm


(CITY BULLETIN REFERENCE: Tree Cutting Permit Application Process). Provide
several photos of the tree(s) in question, including a full photo of the tree not just
parts of the tree.

Each application site is visited by a City staff person who assesses the basis for
removal and makes a decision. While we endeavour to complete the site visits as
quickly as possible it can take up to 5 business days. The letters for denied
permits can take longer to be received.

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Q. Why do I have to pay a permit fee?
Q. Why do I have to pay a refundable security fee and plant a new tree?




                                     Answer:
The bylaw sets the fees requirements for tree cutting permits, for individuals and
for developers. Payment of the permit fee cannot be waived. Replanting trees is
also a requirement of the bylaw, regardless of how many trees you may or may
not have on your property. The City is striving to maintain tree cover in the City as
a whole and every tree impacts that goal. The replanting fee is fully refundable
upon successful replanting and tree survival.

The only instance where the tree-cutting permit fee can be waived is where the
tree is already dead or where a "certified tree risk assessor" has inspected the
tree and deemed the tree to present a risk of hazard (City Bulletin Reference:
Tree Bylaw Introduction and Overview; International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
Accredited Arborist List).

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Q. There is a tree on City property that I want cut, pruned, moved, etc.



                                  Answer:
  Tree on City property are the responsibility of the Parks and Recreation
                                Department.

              Call 604.501.5050 for all issues with City trees.

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Q. I live in a strata, how do I make a tree cutting permit application?

                                       Answer:
An application for a tree cutting permit on a strata must be made through a
council representative for all trees on common property. In addition, a signed
letter on letterhead signed by the Council president, or Council executive,
authorizing the applicant to submit the application on behalf of the Council is
required. Include photos and plan with all applications. Applicants will be
contacted by City staff to arrange a time to meet on-site with at least 3
representatives which can include council members, council president and
property manager to discuss the application, the specific trees and other tree
management issues. Decisions on permit approval or denial, as well as
determining if further information is required from the strata, will be determined
at that time.
Strata are strongly recommended to have a management plan prepared by a
certified arborist (City Bulletin Reference: International Society of Arboriculture
(ISA) Accredited Arborist List) which does several things:


1.   maps the tree locations for maintenance planning;
2.   identifies and prioritizes trees for maintenance, including pruning, removal, re-
     planting and other treatments; and
3.   makes recommendations based on a budget and a time frame (generally over
     several years).

Such a plan helps a strata manage their trees and funds in an effective manner as well
as showing that they are committed to tree maintenance. In addition, such planning
helps to ensure that, where removals are actually required, the removals and
replacements can be done within the tree cutting permit timeframe, and that the strata
is committed to replanting with species appropriate for the site within a long-term plan.
Such a plan is not required but can be a significant factor when assessing large-scale
tree removal requests, as such requests are not routinely approved without some sort of
long-term planning in place.

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Q. It is obvious that my tree could blow over at any time, why do I need
a permit?


                                    Answer:
You can make an application for a tree cutting permit and a City staff person
will visit the site and make a determination. If the permit is approved you will
have to pay the permit fee and replanting security, as discussed in the
previous question.

If the permit is denied you will receive a letter and can appeal by having the
tree inspected by a "certified tree risk assessor" and if the tree is deemed to
be at high risk of failure due to natural causes then the fees and securities will
not be applied, as discussed in a previous question (City Bulletin Reference:
Tree Bylaw Introduction and Overview; International Society of Arboriculture
(ISA) Accredited Arborist List).

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Q. My tree is damaging my property. Can I cut it down?


                                  Answer:
The type of "damage" would need to be defined. The City recognizes that
trees which are within 2 m of a home are awkwardly placed and in an
unsuitable location, regardless of actual condition or impact. However,
other impacts that trees may have, or compound, such as leaf litter, bird
droppings, roof access by wildlife, roof replacement, walkway or driveway
cracking are not typically considered a reason for removal and can often
managed by proper pruning or other tree maintenance. Concerns about
drainage must be documented in writing by a professional. Concerns
about house foundations are not typically founded on fact as tree roots
require water and oxygen to survive and the conditions beneath a house
do not provide the oxygen required. Existence of foundation damage
must be clearly documented in writing including excavation and photos.
Opinions or speculation by insurance agents, building inspectors,
engineers or others are not sufficient.

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Q. My neighbour has a tree that overhangs my yard. What can I do
   about this?


                                 Answer:
Regardless of whether the tree is protected or not, you are within your
rights to prune branches that overhang your property, to your property
line. Naturally, you are responsible for the cost of such work and for
proper clean-up and disposal of pruning debris. However, 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 structurally
unstable (this includes raising the crown). Any of these things are a
violation of the bylaw which 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. In addition, you cannot top the tree (or any
tree in Surrey) or raise the crown excessively as this is also a violation
of the bylaw and, in fact, no reputable professional would ever
recommend or carry out such a practice. (City Bulletin Reference:
International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Accredited Arborists, or you
can look in the yellow pages under "tree service" for certified arborists.)

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Q. My neighbour’s tree is damaging my property. What can I do?
Q. My neighbour’s tree is threatening my property. What can I do?



                                 Answer:
Issues regarding neighbouring trees is 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 structural
integrity of the trees you may wish to discuss the hiring of a "certified tree
risk assessor" with your neighbour. (City Bulletin Reference: International
Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Accredited Arborist List).

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Q. I am planning to buy a property or rebuild/improve my home. There are
protected trees on my lot and street trees near the sidewalk and trees on
the neighbour’s property. How does this affect me?

                                       Answer:
Because protected trees and street trees require protection from injury during
development, you need to follow the following steps:
1. Have the property lines surveyed as well as: a) the location of all protected
    trees on your property, all off-site trees on City and neighbouring properties
    that are within 4 metres of the property line, and b) the tree diameters at
    breast height (DBH) (City Bulletin Reference: Tree Bylaw Introduction and
    Overview; Tree Survey Requirements).
2. All tree locations must be accurately located on your site plan which shows
    the location of buildings, access, utility connections, grade changes etc. (City
    Bulletin Reference: Tree Survey Requirements; Considerations for Building
    on a Site With Trees).
3. You may be required to provide an arborist report from a certified arborist
    (City Bulletin Reference: Arborist Report Specifications).
4. A tree cutting permit may be required for some trees as well as tree
    protection barriers for other trees (City Bulletin Reference: Tree Cutting
    Permit Application Process; Tree Protection Installation and Inspection).
5. If there are street trees the Parks and Recreation Department will determine
    their retention or removal. Contact Parks about these trees at 604.501.5050.
6. Trees on neighbouring properties must be protected from any damage within
    their critical root zone and all planning must take these zones into account at
    the design stage.
7. Tree protection must remain intact and in place throughout the construction
    process and tree bonding fees are required (City Bulletin Reference:
    Considerations for Building on a Site With Trees).
8. If you damage any protected trees you will be required to hire a certified
    arborist or certified tree risk assessor (as determined by the City); payment
    of fines and tree cutting permit fees if required; replanting of trees in the
    same location with no change to the building plan; 4:1 replanting ratio of
    replanting 8cm caliper trees; and payment of tree planting securities of $600
    per tree. (City Bulletin Reference: Arborist Reports for Tree Risk
    Assessments or Tree Damage).

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Q. I am planning to renovate my property/landscape. The trees I
    want to remove are not ‘protected trees’ according to the code.
    Do I need a tree removal permit to remove small trees and other
    ornamental trees?

                                  Answer:
1.   Were the trees planted as part of a replanting requirement for
     building or development? Then yes, you do need a permit for the
     trees, regardless of the type of site: single-family residential, strata or
     commercial, etc. You will be required to replace the trees and pay
     the appropriate replanting securities.
2.   Were the trees planted on a single-family residential site, not as a
     part of an approved landscape plan at development or building? As
     long as the species planted are not protected regardless of size, then
     no you do not. The species protected regardless of size are:
     arbutus, Garry oak, pacific dogwood, pacific yew, coast redwood,
     dawn redwood, giant redwood, gingko or monkey puzzle.
3.   Are the trees single-stemmed (one trunk) or multi-stemmed (more
     than one trunk) at 1.4 metres above the ground? If multi-stemmed,
     then you will need to measure each trunk to calculate whether the
     trees are protected or not (City Bulletin Reference: Tree Bylaw
     Introduction and Overview).

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Q. I am planting my trees, as required by my tree cutting permit.
    Can I plant the trees anywhere on my property?


                                 Answer:
When planting a tree you should take into account the height and spread
of the tree so that you do not plant it too close to your house, other
buildings or your property line. Depending on the mature size of the tree
you are planting, stay 2-3m away from your house so that you can
minimize conflict with branches and leaf litter. Planting right on your
property line is not advised, whether you are planting a single tree or a
hedge. Plant hedges and small maturing trees a minimum of 1m from
the property line and larger maturing trees 2-3m. Do not plant trees with
a mature height of more than 5m underneath overhead power lines. Do
not plant any trees directly beside utility servicing. When City staff
inspect your replanting for reimbursement of your replanting bond, they
will not approve trees which are not planted in an appropriate location or
have not been planted properly.

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Q. Who do I call if I see trees being cut without a permit or being
topped or improperly pruned?


                                   Answer:
During the week you can call 604.591.4675. Please provide your name
and contact information, the civic address of the property in question and
what you observed. Any other information you have may be helpful:
dates, times, company names, license plate numbers, photos. City staff
will look into the concern and determine if a permit exists and will check
the site to see if the trees were protected under the bylaw.
After hours or during the weekend you can call the RCMP at
604.599.0502 who will dispatch the bylaw officers. Callers need to
specify that it is a bylaw complaint.


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