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Tree and Shrub Planting Requirements

In response to motions passed by Executive Committee on August 18, 2015 and November 10, 2015, the City is proposing Zoning Bylaw changes to:

  •  address inconsistencies in the landscaping regulations across all zones, and 
  • create effective incentives to preserve mature trees on redeveloped sites in low-density residential zones (RF1, RF2, RF3 and RSL).

The proposed amendments were presented to Executive Committee on February 23, 2016 for consideration. At that meeting, Executive Committee asked Administration to make some small changes and advance the proposed amendments to City Council Public Hearing for a final decision. The target date for the amendments to go to Public Hearing is March 14, 2016.

Mature trees play an essential role in the environmental quality and biodiversity of the city, and contribute to the livability of our neighbourhoods. Diverse, attractive landscaping and plant material on private properties also reinforces the unique community character of existing mature neighbourhoods, and helps reduce the visual impact of new development.

What’s Changing?

The City is pursuing the following changes to promote tree preservation and create consistent landscape requirements across all low-density residential zones:

  • Implementing tree planting requirements for single detached lots that increase as a function of lot width, starting with a minimum of one deciduous and one coniferous tree, and four shrubs per lot
  • Creating an incentive program that credits existing mature trees towards the minimum planting requirements

Provincial legislation does not allow the City to prohibit property owners from removing mature trees on private property. Even if possible, tree protection measures may significantly impact the buildable area of a site and change lot access during construction.

The proposed changes strive to balance these development rights with the need to address community concerns around sites being cleared for ease of development.

Public Consultation

The City of Edmonton is committed to citizen engagement. The proposed amendments were informed by feedback gathered through several types of public consultation:

Online Survey
Thank you to everyone who completed the online surveys. Over one thousand people completed the surveys, providing in-depth and thoughtful responses that helped shape the proposed amendment.

Open House 
Thank you to everyone who attended the open house on December 8, 2015. View the open house presentation materials.

The following key themes were identified from the feedback received:
  • the Zoning Bylaw should set out requirements for the number of trees and shrubs in all low density residential zones
  • the City should use its resources and authority to maximize mature tree preservation

Request to Speak 
Residents can share their thoughts directly with Council by requesting to speak when the proposed amendments advance to City Council Public Hearing on March 14, 2016.

Current Regulations

The current regulations governing landscaping in mature areas are several decades old and do not include tree planting requirements for low-density residential zones, unlike newer neighbourhoods which have had tree planting requirements for some time.

Landscaping requirements in mature areas are limited to the seeding or sodding of all yards visible from a public roadway, other than a lane, within 18 months of occupancy.

Alternative forms of landscaping, including hard decorative pavers, shale or similar treatments, or flower beds or cultivated gardens may be substituted for seeding or sodding. 

Further, landscaping regulations in Zoning Bylaw 12800 do not currently provide incentives for the retention of existing trees when redeveloping low density residential sites.

While trees on City property, such as boulevards and parkland, are protected and retention is encouraged (Corporate Tree Management Policy C456A), the Alberta Municipal Government Act does not specifically authorize municipalities to protect trees on private property.

Additional Resources

An online reference guide containing an overview of the proposed landscaping regulation changes and links to other useful tree planting and landscaping resources, such as a list of common tree species in Edmonton, is in development and will be available in late spring 2016.

Information on tree care and maintenance is available on the trees and urban forestry page.  

For More Information

Adam Sheahan

Title Planner, Zoning Bylaw Implementation


Email adam.sheahan@edmonton.ca