Despite our best efforts, sometimes removing trees is unavoidable. Tree removals at UBC typically occur for one of the following reasons:
- Overcrowding due to maturing landscaping on residential properties
- Maturing street trees in the public realm
- New development on undeveloped sites
- Hazardous conditions and/or tree health
To remove a tree at UBC you need an approved tree removal permit. UBC tree removal application processes are similar to the practices undertaken in municipalities. If you would like to submit a tree removal request, a permit is required if the tree is:
- More than 15 cm dbh (diameter at breast height)
- Being removed for a future development; or
- In a residential area and approved as part of a previous development plan or permit.
In UBC Academic Areas
On UBC Academic land, a Development Permit or Streets and Landscapes Permit is required in order to remove a tree.
In situations where a tree is causing safety concerns or experiencing hazardous conditions, the tree can be removed at the recommendation of the UBC Campus Arborist without a permit.
In UBC Neighbourhoods
Tree removals on residential strata properties
The landscape plan for each residential strata development was originally approved through a formal public process as part of the project’s original Development Permit application process. The role of Campus and Community Planning is to uphold the original design vision, while respecting the evolution of the landscape as it matures. As original plantings and trees continue to spread and grow, the result can be an environment that is not healthy for the trees (e.g. overcrowding) or they may begin to interfere with the integrity of the building (e.g. parking garage overgrowth). Campus and Community Planning understands these challenges and makes every effort to accommodate requests.
Campus and Community Planning processes requests for tree removals through a Development Permit application. Tree maintenance, including responsible pruning, may be undertaken without a permit.
Steps for Residential Property Tree Removal
1. Contact Campus and Community Planning
Tree removal requests are made by contacting Development Services staff
Karen Russell, Manager of Development Services
Ross Williams, Streets and Landscape Technician
2. Site visit
Planning staff will arrange a site visit with a representative of the property manager or strata attended by the Manager, Development Services and the University Landscape Architect.
The tree removal proposal is discussed with the property management representative(s) and the University Landscape Architect makes recommendations on the removal requests, based on the relationship to the original landscape plan, tree health, impact on outdoor public spaces, and impacts on buildings/structures. Tree pruning or tree replacement options may be recommended.
Development Permit application submission requirements are also reviewed with the applicant at the site meeting.
3. Development Permit application
In cases where a tree removal is recommended by the University Landscape Architect, the property representative(s) should follow the process below:
- Complete the Development Permit application form – Type: Development Permit amendment
- Include the application Fee: $160 made out to University of British Columbia
- Include a map/site plan/landscape plan showing the trees/shrubs to be removed
- Indicate the size and type of trees to be removed
- State the rationale for removal and an arborist report noting type and condition of the trees
- Identify the location and type of any proposed new plantings or replacement trees
- A copy of strata council meeting minutes/resolution or official letter supporting tree removals will be required
4. Application review
- The application submission is reviewed by Development Services staff and the University Landscape Architect. Planning staff may contact the applicant if clarification or more information is required.
5. Development Permit decision
- Application is approved by the Director of Planning
- Application is approved with conditions (e.g. replacement plantings may be recommended)
- Application is not approved or partially approved (i.e. some tree removals may not be supported if the arborist and University Landscape Architect determine that there is a negative impact on public outdoor space)
Processing Time: 2-4 weeks depending on completeness of application and timing of site visit.
Tree removals in outdoor public spaces
Outdoor public spaces in the neighbourhoods that are outside of property lines include:
- Tree corridors, or
- Road and sidewalk areas.
The University Neighbourhood Association (UNA) is responsible for maintaining these areas. Should you see a damaged tree in a park or along a street or would like to request that trees in the public realm be trimmed or pruned, please contact the Operations Manager at the UNA directly.
The UNA will be required to submit a Development Permit application to Campus and Community Planning if a tree must be removed.
Tree Removals due to new development on undeveloped lots
Sometimes groups of trees must be removed to make way for new developments. Currently, this activity is primarily occurring in Wesbrook Place as that neighbourhood is developed for new residential projects in accordance with the Wesbrook Neighbourhood Plan. Although there are large areas within the neighbourhood that have been set aside as natural areas, greenways or parks, there are also areas that have been subdivided for development.
Where trees must be removed for new development, the current UBC Land Use Plan Section 22.214.171.124 stipulates that all trees that are 15 cms in diameter that are removed for development must be replaced on a 1:1 basis. The type, size and location of replacement trees are at the discretion of the University Landscape Architect.
A Development Permit is required for all tree removals on development sites in addition to a tree removal notification sign that indicates the number and species of trees to be removed, and the rationale for removal. The sign must be placed on the site for a minimum of 48 hours before removal.
All tree removal notifications are also posted here.
Hazardous Tree Removals
Should a tree pose a threat to public safety due to poor health or weather damage, the tree may be removed immediately and a permit is not required. Tree removals should only be undertaken by a qualified contractor. If the tree is located on a strata property, removal may be arranged directly by the strata or property manager. If the tree is in an outdoor public space within a neighbourhood, the UNA should be contacted.
For dangerous or damaged trees on the academic campus, please contact the UBC Building Operations Service Centre.