Growing our tree canopy in Sandy Hill

A mature tree canopy is what makes an urban neighbourhood unique and desirable. Aside from the environmental benefits from a tree-lined street, trees, in general, make a neighbourhood more inviting, beautiful and charming. Unfortunately, this past spring and summer, Sandy Hill suffered several losses when it comes to mature trees in the neighbourhood. The fact that we lost the tree canopy is one thing. The other issue is that this occurs without noticing until a witness sees the tree being chopped down. The result then becomes my office chasing after forestry or the property owner, bylaw and the person who reported it to figure out if this particular removal was okay, whether it was a City-owned tree and where and what the replacement will be. These steps are exhausting for everyone involved. I am pleased the City has made small steps to help mitigate these issues, but most importantly, there is a new tree protection by-law. We have new regulations to alleviate some of these long-standing concerns. The new bylaw was supposed to be implemented in May of this year. Due to COVID-19 delays, the bylaw will be implemented beginning January 2021. Critical aspects of the bylaw will be the improvement of tree protection, formal compensation, proper tree information for distinctive tree permits, higher application fees, and a new special fine designed to eliminate or reduce any economic or financial gain from contravening the bylaw. There are two phases of the bylaw, and due to the delay, both phases will be implemented in January 2021. The second phase includes decreasing the distinctive tree size from 50 cm to 30 cm and requiring a permit. For more information on all the aspects of the new bylaw, please visit Tree By-law Review Project. I am genuinely pleased the City has updated and strengthened its tree protection laws. Other exciting items I am told staff are working on include proper canopy mapping for the City. We have a better understanding of what we have and what we have lost and what needs to be replaced. Residents will get more information when it comes to the City removing a diseased tree or one that is impacting homes or foundations. And as for the loss of tree canopy in Sandy Hill, I am happy that the Forestry Department is actively looking for new locations close to the former tree locations to replace what was there. Additionally, I am working with staff to add 12 trees to the area. This is to replace the six trees that were removed from City properties in our neighbourhood. We have sought interest from the community for locations, whether private or public, that may work to add these much-needed trees to the area. If you have any questions about the City’s new tree bylaw, or would like to know more about the City’s Trees in Trust program, or would like to sign up for one of the 12 trees we are looking to plant in the neighbourhood, please reach out to me at I look forward to keeping Sandy Hill the mature, tree-lined neighbourhood we have all come to love.

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