Urban Forest

Last updated March 30, 2021

Just as streets, sidewalks, public buildings and recreational facilities are a part of a community’s infrastructure, so are publicly owned trees. Trees — and, collectively, the urban forest — are important assets that require care and maintenance the same as other public property. Trees are on the job 24 hours every day working for all of us to improve our environment and quality of life.  We encourage the public to take an interest in their street and park trees, and we welcome citizen input. Homeowners are requested to assist in the watering of newly planted trees, to watch for vandalism, and to be informed about the inadvertent damage that can be caused to young trees from lawn mowers and weed whips.

Hazardous Trees

Parks and Environmental Services is responsible for the overall health of the urban forests within the District-owned properties, and their impact on the safety of the residents. Hazardous trees are identified by inspections and residential complaints. Residential complaints are investigated to determine priority, followed by the removal that is handled by contracted professionals.  Wood remaining from the removal of a hazardous tree may be left for the neighborhood residents to use. If you have identified a hazardous tree situation and feel that it should be investigated contact Parks and Environmental Services at the District of Sooke to make the appropriate arrangements. Contact District of Sooke Parks at parks@sooke.ca or 250.642.1634.

Private Property Trees

Important points to remember

  • Just because a tree is tall, does not mean it is dangerous. There are many other factors that a professional will review when assessing a tree’s risk.
  • If you have concern about the safety of a tree on your private property, contact an arborist certified through the International Society of Arboriculture to assess for health and safety.
  • The District of Sooke does not complete tree hazard risk assessments or complete tree work on private property trees.

Trimming a Neighbour’s Overhanging Branches

It is recommended that you discuss this with your neighbour before planning any tree work. There are three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property:

  • You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition
  • You cannot damage your neighbour’s property (in this case a tree)
  • You cannot trespass onto your neighbour’s property, even by reaching or hanging over the property line while still standing on your property.

It is best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves concerning trees overhanging property lines and is not something that the District can be involved in. If you choose to prune a neighbouring tree:

  • The usual scenario is that you are responsible for the cost of such work and proper clean-up and disposal of pruning debris.
  • You cannot prune incorrectly nor can you prune in such a way to damage the tree, cause the tree to decline or die or cause the tree to become unsafe.
  • All pruning should be done by a professional who is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), not by a gardener or a landscaper. Only a certified arborist is qualified to make pruning recommendations and carry out proper pruning.

Safety or Property Damage Concerns About a Tree on a Neighbour’s Property

If you are concerned that a tree on a neighbouring property is putting your property at risk or has the potential to cause property damage, advise the property owner so that they may take the required action to address the situation.