By-Laws

Moncton’s by-laws are enacted by City Council and maintained by the Legal Department.

New By-Law

The Tree Protection By-Law Z-1624 was adopted on Feb. 20 and is now in effect. 

Tree Protection By-Law FAQ

The proposed Tree Protection By-Law (Z-1624) prohibits the destruction of trees on vacant lots, except when a building or development permit that allows tree clearing is in place, or in certain other circumstances. It also prohibits the clearance of other woody vegetation (e.g. shrubs) except under the same circumstances.

This by-law is the first phase in a broader tree protection strategy that will be developed alongside the new Municipal Development Plan and Zoning By-Law. This process will include extensive public engagement with industry and the general public. It is expected to begin later this year and conclude by the end of 2026.

FAQ

Why is the City doing this?

Trees are part of a healthy and attractive city, and the City of Moncton wants to preserve and grow its tree canopy. The purpose of the by-law is to discourage the premature cutting of trees months or years before a development is even approved.

In the past, premature clearance has resulted in drainage issues, as well as erosion and sedimentation of watercourses, as the trees that helped to absorb and manage rainfall were removed without any measures to control runoff.

Premature cutting also pre-empts any measures to retain trees or stands of trees and incorporate them into a subdivision design.

Trees on a development site should only be cut down once the landowner is ready to develop, a drainage plan is in place, and decisions have been made about which trees will be preserved on the site.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. The proposed by-law does not limit the cutting of trees:

  • on an already-developed lot (e.g. trees on a residential homeowner’s property) 
  • where an arborist determines that the tree is diseased, dead, or dangerous
  • in the course of emergency work
  • as part of forestry or agricultural uses
  • for firewood for personal use
  • to permit land surveying operations

Does this by-law mean I can’t cut the trees in my back yard?

No. This by-law only applies to vacant lots. It does not apply to a lot that’s already developed, e.g. the lot your house is on. This by-law doesn’t affect the typical homeowner at all.

What do you mean by "vacant?"

Under the proposed by-law, a lot is considered vacant if it is not the owner's primary residence AND less than 0.25 per cent (one quarter of one per cent) of its area is occupied by buildings or structures. That's the equivalent of a 1,000-square-foot one-storey house on a ten-acre lot. 

This accounts for some very large tracts of land that are planned for subdivision but that technically may not be entirely vacant because of an existing structure. If the lot is your primary residence, it is NOT considered vacant and the Tree Protection By-Law does not apply.

Developers often clear trees in the fall, then get their subdivision approvals over the winter and start work in the spring. Won’t this by-law interfere with that practice?

In the future, developers will be expected to get their subdivisions registered or their development permits in place before they start clearing. This is one of the goals of the by-law – to ensure the City has an opportunity to review developments for opportunities to protect significant trees before they are cut.

Are there any plans to protect trees on already-developed lots?

The City will include tree protection, planting, and replacement requirements in the consultations around the new Municipal Development Plan and Zoning By-Law. This process, expected to begin in 2024, will take at least a year and will require a thorough discussion with all stakeholders: residents, homeowners, developers, and others. The tree protection rules will have to be coordinated with the other development rules under the Municipal Plan and Zoning By-Law.

The plan is to develop a tree protection regime that fairly and reasonably balances the wish to protect the City's environment, the need for new housing, homeowners' rights to use their property, and other considerations. We expect to present an updated Tree Protection By-Law for adoption with the new Municipal Development Plan and Zoning By-Law in 2026.

What kind of permit do I need to cut trees on my vacant lot?

Removing trees or other woody vegetation is permitted once you have received one of the following:

  • a building permit
  • a development permit
  • in the case of a subdivision, approval of the subdivision

What are the penalties for destroying or damaging trees unlawfully?

The City may charge a penalty of $400 for each tree destroyed or for each 50 square metres of woody vegetation cleared. In the case of a corporation, the penalty is $650.

The City may bring charges in court, in which case the maximum fines are $800 per tree or per 50 square metres. In the case of a corporation, the fine is $1,300.

What happens next? 

The updated Subdivision Guidelines, expected to be ready early this year, will clarify that protecting stands of high-value trees may be one of the criteria we use when taking Land for Public Purposes during subdivisions. This will not affect how much land the City takes during subdivision, but may affect where it is taken.

In 2025 and 2026:

  • We will undertake extensive consultation on a more detailed tree strategy, including the planting, retention, and/or replacement of trees during development. This will be done as part of the broader review of the Municipal Development Plan and Zoning By-Law to ensure that the goals of land use planning and urban forestry work together.
  • This will result in a more detailed Tree Protection By-Law.
  • During this process we will consider a requirement for a tree inventory as part of the subdivision application process.

In the long term (after 2026) we will look at best practices in conservation design.

How can I get more information on the Tree By-Law?

You can read the full draft by-law online after Jan. 16, 2024. You can also contact Tim J. Moerman, Director of Environmental Planning and Management, at 506-859-2660 or by email at tim.moerman@moncton.ca.


 

Disclaimer

This electronic version is an unofficial office consolidation and is provided for convenience only. It has no legislative sanction. It may not, in all respects, be consistent with the paper version published by the city clerk. For the official version of by-laws, reference must be made to the paper version held in the City Clerk’s Office. The electronic version is updated on a regular basis, regardless of the date at the end of the document. The latest consolidation is indicated after the by-law title. 

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of its contents, the City of Moncton assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the contents of this product.

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