The bylaw would dig deeper than current requirements, which call for a street tree every 10 metres, reports the Globe and Mail. It could also inspire municipalities across the country to follow suit.
“What we would like to do is evolve those standards to actually have a canopy requirement so that sites are ensuring they are providing a certain amount of canopy and that the canopy that was lost on that site is somehow compensated for, said Vancouver Park Board planner Katherine Isaac.
Some property investors have already expressed concerns that those types of regulations would severely limit the size and number of units a development can offer, in the process restricting cash-flow potential at a time when cap rates make it increasingly difficult to make the case for redevelopment.
Still the devastating effects of global warming suggest cities need to do more to protect their urban canopies, say scientists. They point to the hundreds of trees felled this summer by the parched conditions of a normally rainy Vancouver.
As Toronto’s 2013 ice storm downed more than 3% of the city’s trees, Vancouver’s hot, dry summer is being blamed for destabilizing trees, snapping off limbs and uprooting even old-growth specimens.
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The City of Vancouver is now considering tree canopy standards for developers – both large and small – that could mandate how many and, indeed, what types of trees can be planted on their properties.