Trees on private property

Tree Protection Bylaw, Bylaw No. 2407 (PDF) has been put in place to ensure the provision of a sustainable, and grow a healthy urban tree canopy within the City of White Rock. In order to achieve this goal, the Bylaw prohibits the unauthorized removal of or damage to protected trees on private property in the City of White Rock. Where removal is deemed necessary, the Bylaw ensures that adequate replanting occurs.

Person pruning tree wearing safety gear

Cutting & Removing Trees

Request for tree removal will require submission of an Arborist report and reasons for removal as outlined in the bylaw. Tree Management Permits for cutting and removal may be considered in the following situations:

  1. Type 1 - to remove a dead, diseased or hazardous high-risk  "protected tree" 
  2. Type 2 - to remove an unwanted "protected tree" i.e. for example a tree that is destroying property or is completely obstructing views and cannot be resolved with sound arboricultural practices.
  3. Type 3 - to remove a "protected tree" on a property in conjunction with a development proposal on a property under application for building permit, demolition permit, development permit or subdivision.

Refer to the City of White Rock Bylaw No. 2407, Tree Protection Bylaw (PDF). This bylaw applies to all private land in the City including “ravine lands,” “significant stands of trees areas” and “ecosystem enhancement areas.” This bylaw applies to all trees with trunk diameter of 20 centimetres (7.87 inches) or greater measured 1.4 metres above grade, as defined in the bylaw.

Tree Management Permit Application

Download the Tree Management Permit Application (PDF)

Tree Pruning

A tree management permit is not required for the pruning of a protected tree provided that the pruning is conducted in accordance with the standards and recommendations of the International Society of Arboriculture

Pruning shall not include:

  • The crown raising of lower limbs to the extent that the live crown ratio is less than 65%
  • The pruning or removal of a structural root within the critical root zone of a protected tree
  • The removal of more than 25% of the crown in one season
  • Topping

The City of White Rock recommends hiring a Certified Arborist for pruning all trees. Find a Certified Arborist at

Removed Trees are Required to be Replaced

Except for dead or hazardous trees, the City has initiated replacement tree requirements with the objective of increasing the overall tree canopy in the City over time. The City will require the posting of securities for replacement trees prior to the issue of any permits, and prior to any tree cutting or removal. Replacement trees will be required when tree removal permits are issued, however, the number and size of replacement trees is actually dependent upon the size of the "protected tree" removed i.e. up to as many as six replacement trees for one tree of trunk diameter 85 centimeters cut or removed. Applicants may be required to submit a "coordinated site development plan (CSDP)" as outlined in the Bylaw No. 2407, Tree Protection Bylaw (PDF).


Type 2 requests will require a plan or survey, drawn to scale, identifying the location, size and species of tree or trees to be removed, the location, size and species of replacement planting. The plan should also indicate the location of nearby buildings or structures. All applicants are required to indicate on the application form the reasons for the proposed tree removal.

Type 3 requests require the submission of a site survey or site plan, together with their application plans for development, and which also contains the following information:

  • Identification of which trees are to be removed, replaced, or retained
  • Location of protective fencing to protect retained trees during construction activity (see Tree Protection Guidelines).
  • The location, size and species of all trees within the vicinity of the proposed construction. The extent of the dripline of the tree should also be indicated. All trees which are over 20 centimetres (7.87 inches) in diameter (measured at 1.4m above grade) should be identified on the plan
  • Location, size and species of replacement trees or other planting material
  • Tree grades (existing tree base elevations) for those trees that are affected by the proposed development, and spot elevations in the vicinity of the proposed development

Additional Requirements

In the 'ravine lands' and 'significant stands of mature trees' areas, a Minor Development Permit (PDF) is required. In the 'ravine lands' area applicants will be required to provide geotechnical review to confirm that tree removal will not adversely impact soil stability. Applicants are requested to consult with Planning and Development Services Staff on applications in these areas.

If the tree to be removed is near an open watercourse, Provincial and/or Federal regulations may apply as well as special development permit requirements in accordance with Provincial Riparian Area Regulations. This can be confirmed with Planning and Development Services Staff.


Applications fee for a tree management permit shall be made in accordance to the City's Fees and Charges Bylaw 2480, Schedule A (PDF). The costs of all survey work, arborist's reports and coordinated site development plans will be borne by the applicants.


For more information on tree management on private land, contact the Tree Preservation Official at 604-541-2143 or 

Related Documents

Protecting Bird Nests

The Federal Migratory Bird Convention Act and the Provincial Wildlife Act protect the active nests and eggs of birds.

Bird nests are typically active every year from March 1 until August 31. Some variation in these dates may occur due to factors such as weather. 

If you are removing trees within these dates, you may need to provide a bird nesting survey. Bird nesting surveys must be written by a qualified environmental professional (QEP).Bird nesting surveys are time-sensitive. Please do not have one done unless you are directed to do so by City staff.

If you want to find out if your project needs a bird nesting survey or you have any other questions, please email


Tree removal near an eagle's nest is prohibited during eagles' nesting season, which is generally February 1 to September 31. If there are nests present, tree cutting and land clearing may not occur between April 1 and September 1. These dates may fluctuate from year to year due to seasonal changes.

Review the British Columbia Ministry of Environment's Best Management Practices Document on raptor conservation in urban and rural development applications.

Provincial or Federal Government statutes or regulations may apply to a property and you must adhere to those regulations regardless of whether the City has issued your tree cutting permit. This includes, but is not limited to, the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the BC Wildlife Act.

Pileated Woodpecker Nest Regulations 

Pileated woodpecker nests are protected under Schedule 1 of the Migratory Bird Regulations as of August 2022. Additional regulations are now in place to protect, manage, or remove their nests in trees. 

What do nests look like? Which trees have nests? 
Nests are located in large oval or tear drop shaped cavities often found on the stems of red alder, Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedars. The cavities typically have a vertical diameter of 12cm and a horizontal diameter of 9 cm. The internal diameter of the cavities expand to about 20 cm, and are up to 75 cm deep. 

wood pecker nests

Step 1: Survey the Nest 
If there are nesting cavities in a tree, it must be retained for 36 months (3 years) upon discovery, regardless of the trees condition/risks. To remove the tree earlier than the 3-year waiting period, the property owner must hire a Registered Professional Biologist to survey the nest. If the RP Bio has evidence the nesting cavities are no longer active, they can submit a notification to the Abandoned Nest Registry

Step 2: Apply for a Permit
The 3-year waiting period is still in effect until a government representative from the Canadian Wildlife Services confirms the notification was received. If/when the notification is confirmed, the property/tree owner may apply for a Nest Destruction Permit with the help of an RP Bio. The applicant however must be the owner. 

The permit application must be sent to:

Regional Canadian Wildlife Services office
Tel: 250-327-4101

Step 3: Remove the Tree/Next withing the allowed timeframe 
Canadian Wildlife Services decides on the permit status within 35 days with 90% of the applications. Nest Destruction permits may only be issued to the property/tree owner. If a permit is approved, the tree with nesting cavities can be removed within a year following issuance. If there is another removal date specified on the permit, the tree can only be removed before the specified date. 

For more information, visit Birds protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.