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Removing a Tree

You can be fined up to $10,000 if you illegally remove or cut down a tree.

Trees are only removed or cut down if they meet specific requirements within the Tree Protection Bylaw and when a permit has been issued.

The Tree Protection Bylaw reduces the number of trees removed, killed, cut or damaged, by improved protection and replanting requirements.

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  • Learn if you can get a permit expand
  • Learn if you can get a permit

    You or a certified tree removal cutting company can apply for a Tree Cutting Permit for a tree on your property. If the tree is a City tree, please call 604-501-5050 to report the tree. City-owned property includes parks, boulevards and greenbelts.

    For every tree you plan to remove, you may be required to plant 2 replacement trees

    You can apply for a permit because:

    ✔ The City's ISA certified arborist has told your tree is dangerous.
    ✔ Your tree is in decline beyond expectation of recovery.
    ✔ Your tree interferes with servicing without an alternative.
    ✔ Your tree is within 3 meters of the home's foundation.
    ✔ To allow for construction.

    You cannot apply for a permit because:

    ✖  Your trees drop needles in gutters
    ✖  Your tree drops leaves or fruit
    ✖  Your tree gives too much shade
    ✖  You want your neighbour’s tree removed
    ✖  Your tree causes moss growth on roof
    ✖  Your tree has damaged driveway and sidewalk
    ✖  There is fence lifting
    ✖  There is root interference to your lawn
    ✖  You want a better view

    You must apply for a Tree Cutting Permit to cut or remove trees for:

    • All trees that measure at least 30 centimetres diameter at breast height.
       
    • Trees that were planted as required replacement trees or condition of development trees. For example, trees planted in a strata complex by the developer are protected as they were a requirement of the development permit.
       
    • The following tree species of any size:
    • Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
    • Garry Oak (Quercus garryana)
    • Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
    • Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
    • Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
    • Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Applying for a permit expand
  • Applying for a permit

    Application Documents
     

    In order to apply for a tree cutting permit, you need the following:
     

    • A completed Tree Cutting Permit Application Form.
      • Application forms need to be signed by the registered owner of the property. If a tree's located on the boundary of your property and your neighbour's property, both owners must give consent by signing the application form.
      • Stratas may attach a signed letter from their management company giving a specific person permission to apply for the permit on behalf of the strata.
         
    • At least three photos of the tree. Photos must be in colour, clear show the specific tree that you wish to remove.
      • Photos should show:
        • The whole tree
        • The defective part
        • The area at distance
           
    • A printout of the tree location on the City of Surrey online mapping system (COSMOS)
       
    • Any other relevant documentation. This may include documents such as contractor's invoices, diagnostic forms, etc.
      • You only require an arborist report if you are applying for 6 or more trees or if it's specifically requested by the Trees and Landscape Section. Arborist reports must be prepared by a Certified Tree Risk Assessor. A list of certified arborists is available.

    Submitting Your Application

    Submit your application by:

    Email

    treebylaw@surrey.ca

    Application forms, photos and documents that are emailed in to the City must be sent as attachments to the email. Photographs of the application form, photos in a drop box format or pasted into the body of the email will not be accepted.

    or

    In-Person

    Surrey City Hall
    Building Services counter, 2nd floor
    13450 - 104 Avenue Surrey, BC
    Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
    Closed on weekends and statutory holidays

    Payment Amount

    There is no fee for applying for the permit.

    If the application is approved and you wish to have the permit issued, the tree cutting permit fee is $79 plus $31 per tree being removed.

    In most instances, replacement trees are required. The Replacement Tree Security is $400 per tree.

  • Waiting for your permit expand
  • Waiting for your permit

    Waiting Time

    Depending on volume of applications, your permit can take up to 6 weeks to be issued.

    Applications for trees with immediate risk factors take precedence.

    Letter of Response

    You will receive a letter of approval or denial by mail once your application has been reviewed.

    You must pick up your permit in-person at City Hall. You will be given your permit once you have made payment in-person at City Hall.

    If your application has been denied, you can appeal the decision. You will need to hire an arborist, who is a certified tree risk assessor, to supply a report demonstrating that your tree meets the tree removal requirements.

  • Paying for your permit expand
  • Paying for your permit

    Accepted Payment

    Payments are accepted in-person at Surrey City Hall by cash, cheque or debit. Credit cards are not accepted.

    You can also mail a cheque to:

    Surrey City Hall
    Building Services counter, 2nd floor
    13450 - 104 Avenue Surrey, BC

    Payment Amount

    Permit Fee

    The tree cutting permit fee is $79 plus $31 per tree being removed.

    For example, if you were taking out a permit to remove one tree, your permit fee would be $110, for two trees it would be $141. In most instances, replacement trees are required.

    Replacement Tree Deposit

    The Replacement Tree Security is $400 per tree.  We collect this deposit to make sure replacement trees are planted and maintained during their important first year.

    We will return your deposit in a 2-stage inspection process, to make sure the replacement trees planted will survive and grow to maturity.

  • Removing your tree expand
  • Removing your tree

    Once your tree cutting permit has been issued and is in hand, you may have your tree removed.

    All tree work, including tree removals, pruning and risk assessments, should be undertaken by qualified professionals. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that contractors hired to perform tree work are qualified.

    The following qualifications, certifications and endorsements are recognized by WorkSafe BC for cutting down trees:

    • BC Certified Faller (BC Forest Safety Council)
    • Falling and Bucking Endorsement (HortEDBC)
    • Certified Arborists (International Society of Arboriculture), providing they follow WorkSafe BC guidelines

    Your tree cutting permit must be posted on your property and visible to the street.

    Tree Removal during Bird Nesting Season

    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. Learn more about birds in Surrey.

    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.

    Penalties apply if a tree is removed without a valid permit. Contact 604-591-4675 to report any suspicious tree-related activity.

  • Replacing your tree expand
  • Replacing your tree

    Replacement trees are required to help replenish our City’s urban forest. You may purchase your replacement tree from a variety of places, including nurseries, plant sales and retail stores as long as the tree that you purchase meets the City’s criteria and is planted according to the BC Landscape Standards. See the list of acceptable replacement trees.

    If you do not want to plant your replacement tree, please provide the City with a signed letter stating your intentions. Your security deposit can then be sent to the Green City Fund where it will be used to plant trees elsewhere in the City.

The tree removal requirements on this page are for residents wanting to remove or cut down a tree on their property and are not building on their property.

Residential Building Site

If you are building on private property with trees on the land, review building site tree requirements for residents.

Land Development Building Site

If you are a land developer, you have specific requirements you need to meet. Review tree requirements for developers.

Agricultural Land

If you are a farmer or have agriculural land, review tree removal requirements for agriculture.