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To: The Ottawa Mayor and City Councillors

Petition for Ottawa's Trees: Sign before September 9, 2019

Dear Mayor and City Council,

Move swiftly and decisively without further delay on updating Ottawa's Tree By-Laws, and ensure full and active implementation in a timely manner supported with appropriate resources.

We, Ottawa’s neighbourhood groups, community associations, environmental organizations and residents, support the following By-law changes:
1. Early consideration of trees by making immediate changes to City internal and external processes involving building and development plans (as detailed in the Tree By-Law Review Discussion Paper)
2. Improved rules around tree permitting, specifying scenarios where tree permits will generally be issued and where they will not be issued, subject to particular circumstances. These rules must protect trees outside of the as-of-right building envelope, including trees in front and rear yards, on property lines and in neighbouring properties affected by excavation.
3. Inside the Greenbelt, require a permit to work around trees so that builders and residents put in place effective tree protection measures to be used for trees that are being retained. Too many are dying through negligence.
4. Lower the distinctive tree size in the Urban Tree Conservation By-law to 20 cm Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) for conifers and 30 cm DBH for broadleaf trees. Efforts are also need to stop pre-emptive cutting while the by-law is still under review.
5. Integrate into the tree-by law a heritage tree component that recognizes trees designated under the Ontario Heritage Act or registered with the Forests Ontario Heritage Tree Program. This is the approach taken by the City of Toronto, and provides Ottawa with a low-cost and sound method to identify and protect heritage trees in Ottawa.
6. Develop common tree compensation requirements for City-owned trees and trees on private property, involving monetary compensation and replacement in cases where trees are removed or injured. The compensation value must act as a strong disincentive to removing trees. We believe this should go beyond the International Society of Arboriculture’s Trunk Value formula to include the multiple and diverse economic and health benefits of trees. The USDA i-Tree calculator provides an international standard for this purpose. We also strongly urge the City to adopt a minimum ratio of 4 trees planted for every tree removed, allowing some of these trees to be planted within the affected neighbourhood if there is not sufficient room on the applicant’s property.
7. Develop an effective education and training process on tree retention, replacement and renewal for City staff and the various stakeholders in the building industry (planners, builders, excavators, architects, etc.) as well as the general public. Ongoing ignorance of tree protection measures is no longer acceptable. This process should ensure that front-line workers are able to identify and address risks to trees before they are damaged, and empower staff to issue stop work orders as needed.
8. Create a monitoring system that tracks the reasons for tree removal, applicant profile (builders and owner-residents, etc.) and other key elements of the tree permitting process, for reporting on an annual basis. Monitoring, at a minimum, should include: number of permits applied for each year; number of trees on the same property included under each permit; number of distinctive tree permits issued each year; number of distinctive tree permits denied each year; number of distinctive trees destroyed via the permitting process each year; number of infractions related to the by-law prosecuted in provincial court each year; compensation provided for tree removal, average and range of penalties imposed due to violations. In cases of conviction, the identity of the violator should be a matter of public record so that continuous abuse can be tracked.
9. The Auditor-General of the City of Ottawa should be required to conduct periodic audits on implementation of the tree by-law in relation to the Asset Management Plan for the City of Ottawa.
10. Establish linkages between the Tree By-Law, the Urban Forest Management Plan and the New Official Plan through reference to canopy cover goals, direction for early consideration of trees in land use and infrastructure, and valuation of the multiple benefits of trees in the context of the climate emergency and human health priorities for the City of Ottawa.

Why is this important?

In this era of climate emergency – as recently declared by City Council –the importance of trees in mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts must be acknowledged. They are the most direct and cost effective measure available to store carbon, remove Green House Gases, reduce storm water runoff, improve air quality and conserve energy used to heat and cool our homes. Urgent steps are needed to retain Ottawa’s existing trees, woodlots and forests, and to plant many more.

How it will be delivered

The Petition was prepared by representatives of Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES), Ecology Ottawa and the Greenspace Alliance for Canada's Capital. We will deliver the petition via email and through a press conference by the City's deadline of September 9, 2019.


2019-09-08 17:33:43 -0400

500 signatures reached

2019-08-13 10:08:37 -0400

100 signatures reached

2019-08-09 18:55:25 -0400

50 signatures reached

2019-08-08 14:40:52 -0400

25 signatures reached

2019-08-08 12:51:07 -0400

10 signatures reached