What is the purpose of a Tree Protection By-law?

    A Tree Protection By-law is one of the tools the City uses to protect and enhance the tree canopy cover. This can be done through education; preventing unnecessary tree removals; ensuring that trees are removed properly; coordinating the tracking of tree removals and replacements; and, providing a legal basis for the regulation of trees.

    Are all trees the same?

    Hardwood trees grow much slower than softwood trees, resulting in tree rings that are much smaller and closer together.   As a result, some trees are regarded as more valuable than others even though they may not be larger.  

    Hardwoods tend to be deciduous trees, which means they lose their leaves in the fall. They tend to be denser and heavier than softwoods and typically have broad, flat leaves.  Examples of hardwoods can be Oak, Maple and Birch trees.

    Softwoods are conifers, having needles rather than leaves, and keeping them through the winter. Unlike hardwoods, they are lighter in weight and less dense. Examples of softwoods are Cedar, Spruce and Pine trees.

    How are trees measured?

    The thickness of a tree is measured at the point of a tree stem (trunk) that is 1.5 metres above ground. This is known as the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH).

    What are some benefits to protecting trees?

    Trees and forests can help reduce winter winds helping lower energy consumption, limit noise pollution as sound barriers, stabilize slopes and natural areas and provide habitat for wildlife.

    How do trees help to fight climate change?

    As a tree grows, it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by storing it in its woody biomass. The tree canopy and urban forest can improve air quality by intercepting and absorbing airborne pollutants. Trees also reduce local air temperature due to the shading effects, reducing the urban heat island effect.

    What are some impacts trees face?

    Impacts to trees can range from age, land clearing for development, extreme weather, insects and diseases, poor construction and maintenance practices and unauthorized tree removals. With a great deal of trees on private properties, tree protection becomes crucial for the City to be able to protect its tree canopy.

    Can I remove a dead or hazardous tree?

    Trees that are dead, dangerous, diseased, severely injured, or stumps are exempt from the City’s Tree Protection By-law.

    Are there any other exemptions to the current Tree Protection By-law?

    Areas not within the current Tree Protection Area; woodlots governed by the Regional Municipality of Durham; trees less than 25 millimetres DBH; activities undertaken by the City, the Regional Municipality of Durham, Conservation Authorities, an electricity transmitter or distributor (for defined purposes); and, injuring or destruction of trees imposed as a condition to the approval of a site plan, a plan of subdivision, a consent, or a development permit under the Planning Act, or as a requirement of site plan agreement, subdivision agreement, or development permit.

    Why does the City have a Tree Protection By-law?

    The City’s Tree Protection By-law 6108/03, as amended, was passed by Council on March 17, 2003, for the purpose of prohibiting and regulating the injuring, destruction or removal of trees in defined screening areas within the City.

    Why are we investigating the existing Private Tree By-law?

    In May 2022, City Council authorized staff to undertake a process to amend the existing Tree Protection By-law 6108/03, as amended, to afford greater protection to more trees within the City of Pickering.

    What does the City’s Tree Protection By-law regulate?

    The current Tree Protection By-law only protects trees within Shorelines and Stream Corridors, Wetlands Oak Ridges Moraine Area and Environmentally Significant Areas. Trees within these Environmentally Sensitive Areas measuring 25 millimetres (approximately 1 inch) or greater are regulated. The reason to regulate this size of tree, is because it is within an environmentally sensitive area and the intent is to protect as many trees as possible.

    What percentage of the City of Pickering’s trees are protected by the current By-law?

    The City’s Tree Protection By-law Screening Areas cover approximately 38% of the total land area of the City.  This leaves approximately 62% of the City’s land area outside of the Tree Protection By-law Screening Areas, that are not protected.

    What is the purpose of this engagement?

    The City would like to understand how well the current Tree Protection By-law is understood, what experiences have been in apply the by-law and feedback on how to improve the by-law.

    What is the purpose of the Public Information Centre (PIC)?

    The purpose of the PIC is to provide the public with insight and get feedback regarding the Tree Protection By-law update.  It will allow attendees to review the information boards, speak with respective staff and fill out a survey to help the City prepare and update the Tree Protection By-law.

    What will happen to the feedback gathered from this engagement?

    Feedback received from the community will be reviewed in detail and included in future reporting to Council for consideration.

    What are the next steps after the survey closes on April 30, 2023?

    Survey results will be included in the Status Report to Council in early June 2023. A second PIC will be held in late June 2023, allowing for feedback on a proposed draft Tree Protection By-law update. From there, a Recommendation Report with those results paired with a proposed updated Tree Protection By-law will be provided to Council in early September.