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Important points to remember:
Trimming a Neighbour’s Overhanging Branches
It is recommended that you discuss this with your neighbour prior to planning any tree work. There are three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property:
- You cannot trespass onto your neighbour’s property, even by reaching or hanging over the property line while still standing in your own property.
- You cannot damage your neighbour’s property (in this case a tree)
- You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition
It is, therefore, best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves with respect to trees overhanging property lines. This is not something that the District can be involved in. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer. If you choose to prune a neighbouring tree:
- The usual scenario is that you are responsible for the cost of such work and for proper clean-up and disposal of pruning debris.
- You cannot prune incorrectly nor can you prune in such a way to damage the tree, cause the tree to decline or die or cause the tree to become unsafe. Any of these could result in legal action from your neighbour.
- All pruning should be done by a professional who is a certified arborist, not by a gardener or a landscaper. Only a certified arborist is qualified to make pruning recommendations and carry out proper pruning.
Safety or Property Damage Concerns About a Tree on a Neighbour’s Property
If you are concerned that a tree on a neighbouring property is putting your property at risk or has the potential to cause property damage, advise the property owner so that they may take the required action to address the situation.
Maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner and issues regarding neighbouring trees are a matter between neighbours. Discussion and resolution is recommended. This is not something that the District can be involved in. If you are concerned about the safety of the trees you may wish to discuss the hiring of a “qualified tree risk assessor” with your neighbour.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer.
Do you have questions about trees?
Trees on District Property
There is a District tree on the boulevard or greenbelt that drops leaves into my gutters and yard. Can the District please remove this tree?
In most cases, the District will not remove a tree for nuisance issues. These include leaf drop into gutters and yards, blocking sunlight from reaching your house, or a general dislike of the tree.
The District believes trees are an important community amenity that provide many benefits and, therefore, District will not remove trees on District property unless they are a risk to public safety.
Can I cut trees on District Property?
In some cases, yes, (see below conditions) you may apply to the District to remove trees at your expense.
a) No cutting of trees will be allowed on developed parks by an applicant.
b) Only landowners or tenants of lands adjacent to lands owned by the Municipality may apply to cut trees on the adjacent municipal property.
c) Areas on Municipal property considered for a tree-cutting permit are undeveloped lands.
d) On Municipal lands, the following trees may be cut:
i) All softwood trees under twelve and one half (12.5) cm measure at the butt thirty and one half (30.5) cm above ground level. Examples are pine, cedar and fir.
ii) Any and all varieties of alder.
iii) All underbrush
e) No hardwood trees, such as maple, may be cut.
f) Consent from other property owners within 100 metres of the subject application may be required.
g) Council may delegate the review of tree cutting permit applications to the Community Consultative Committee, with final approval to be made by Council.
h) Tree cutting applications shall be reviewed by the Administrator.
i) All tree cutting is to be done by a qualified professional who will provide proof to the District that he has a minimum of Two Million ($2,000,000) Dollars liability.
Property Damage from Trees
My property has been damaged by a tree, what should I do?
If the tree is resting on utility wires, contact the local fire department or utility company for assistance. Do not attempt to dislodge or remove the tree on your own. Contact your insurance company promptly and report the damage to them, especially if it is severe and you require immediate assistance. If the damage is as a result of a wide-scale storm, the District will be receiving many calls from the public that may delay their ability to attend to your loss location.
Who is responsible for damage caused by the tree?
Responsibility depends in part on whose property the tree was located and whether or not the property owner knew, or should have known, that the tree was likely to fail. You should inform the property owner, whether it be a private person or entity or the District, who will report the damage to their insurer and assess responsibility. If the tree is located on private property, it is highly unlikely that the District will be liable for the damage.
How do I make a claim against the District?
Submit the details of when, including the date and time, and how the damage occurred in writing to the District. Describe, as best you can, the location of the tree relative to your property. Include details of your loss, including any supporting documents such as photographs or receipts.
Will I be reimbursed?
The District will first assess whether or not it is responsible for your loss based on the circumstances surrounding how your property was damaged. The fact that the tree is located on the District’s property does not, in and of itself, mean that the District is responsible for your loss. Each situation will be reviewed on its own set of facts. If there is evidence that the District is responsible, then you may be reimbursed for your damages.