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Response from Mr. Kirkpatrick to “Tree Conservation and NIMBYs”

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Dear Mr. Buckles,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the issuing of a City permit to remove a tree at 115 Northwestern Avenue and your specific question regarding conditions that would warrant the denial of a tree permit.

With respect to distinctive tree permits, staff works within the direction that Council has set through the Urban Tree Conservation Policy and By-law that was adopted as part of this policy framework. The guiding principle of this policy is to take all reasonable efforts to ensure that tree cover is preserved in Ottawa.

The Urban Tree Conservation By-law is relatively new and staff has advised me that there have been limited instances where the denial of a permit was justified. Of over 1, 000 calls for permits only one third have actually resulted in a permit being issued. In most instances, inspectors work with the resident to accommodate the trees or provide guidance as to how to preserve the trees. In cases where permits are issued, conditions, such as replacement tree planting on site to compensate for the loss, are commonly placed on the permit.

In regards to 115 Northwestern Avenue, City staff has been working closely with the owner of the site, the ward Councillor and the community throughout the development review process for this property.

There are three oak trees on this property. The decision to remove one of the oak trees was based on tree location and condition; and the extent of the construction that would take place, including the demolition of the vacant house and reconstruction of a new building. While it was not feasible to protect all three trees, I can assure you that, in consultation with the ward Councillor and the community, staff explored all options.

The conditions of the distinctive tree permit (DTP) that was issued on April 15, 2011 are:

1) Tree protection of two red oak trees at the front of the property;

2) Planting of bur oak on the property of 115 Northwestern Avenue and at St. George Elementary School in Champlain Park; and,

3) Subsequent changes to development design which will be discussed with City staff to ensure tree protection.

Improvements to the application of the Urban Tree Conservation By-Law continue to be implemented by staff. For example, in this instance, the by-law allowed staff to ensure a greater outcome for tree cover on this property and the urban forest as a whole, through negotiation with the developer and conditions set in the DTP. Looking forward, we continue to see this policy and by-law as an important tool to be used in the preservation of the urban forest.

The City also recognizes that there are circumstances where infill development has an impact on urban forest cover. For this reason, staff from the Planning and Growth Management Department are undertaking a review of infill development to help provide future direction on intensification and infill design while protecting our urban forest cover and neighbourhood character.

During the development of the property at 115 Northwestern Avenue, staff will continue to monitor tree protection on this property both during demolition and development.

Should you have any additional questions or wish to discuss this further, please contact Mr. David Barkley, Manager Forestry Services at 613-580-2424, ext. 21148 or

Kent Kirkpatrick

City Manager/Directeur municipal

City of Ottawa/Ville d’Ottawa

110 Laurier Avenue West/110, avenue Laurier Ouest,

OTTAWA, Ontario K1P 1J1

Tel: (613) 580-2424 ext. 25657

Fax/Telec: (613) 580-2449

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