FAQ: Draft Tree Protection Bylaw
Why are we introducing a Private Tree Protection By-law?
The trees in Newmarket provide many shared benefits to all. These include improving air quality, reducing energy costs for homeowners, increasing property values, and a wide variety of mental health and social benefits. York Region’s Forest Management Plan also highlights the importance of increasing tree canopy cover as a way to support healthy ecosystems and improve resilience against the effects of climate change. Moreover, trees provide essential services that save money for the Town and its residents. Trees are a valuable asset that benefit more than just the landowners, no matter whose property they are on.
Who this By-law will impact?
Right now, the Town of Newmarket only has the policies and By-laws to protect trees in areas that are designated “Natural Heritage” and in areas subject to development applications. This By-law will offer protection to mature trees on all privately owned property in Newmarket.
The By-law will have little impact on residents’ day-to-day lives, but will impact landowners wishing to remove trees for their own purposes – for example, a tree that does not suit their taste or is in the way for a new pool. Under this By-law, Town Staff would first work with landowners considering removing a tree to explore options that would preserve its life. If unsuccessful, the landowner would apply for a permit to remove the tree.
How does the by-law work?
The By-law will apply to all trees with trunks 20cm wide or greater on private property*. This By-law would make it illegal to cut down, injure, or destroy such trees without a permit (pruning is allowed). Trees can be removed, if a Private Tree Removal Permit is granted, except for Heritage Trees and Socially Significant Trees**.
Before starting the Tree Removal Permit process, Town Staff will offer service and advice on options for retaining or managing the tree other than removing it. They will also provide advice on the permit application process and an estimate of the compensation and/or replanting cost for that specific tree. Larger trees generally provide more value to the community, so the replacement will be determined using the Aggregate Inch Method**, which calculates a 1:1 ratio between the size of the removed tree and the size and number of new trees to replace it, to ensure a healthy, growing canopy for the future.
If the applicant decides to proceed, they must submit a complete application, including a signed form, a fee, and other documentation such as an Arborist Report and Tree Planting Plan.
Following the receipt of a complete application, Staff will review it to ensure that the removal of this tree will not have a significant negative impact, for example by threatening an environmentally sensitive area, and consider the reason for removal in determining compensation cost. If the tree is dead, dying, or hazardous, no compensation or replacement fee will be required. If the removal is to facilitate a Building or Pool Permit, 100% of the calculated value of the tree would be required in cash or replacement trees, while if the tree is simply a nuisance, the replacement value would be double.
After being issued a permit, the applicant would be responsible for removing the tree within a year from the permit issue date and replanting in accordance with their Tree Planting Plan or providing compensation for the Town to replant new Trees.
This By-law would allow Staff to issue fines and charges to residents who remove a tree without a permit. This By-law also allows Staff to charge or fine someone who takes down a tree that is required under a Site Plan Agreement.