Garibaldi Estates Emerging Ideas: Tree Canopy Retention

The District is exploring ‘Emerging Ideas’ as themes to consider as policies are developed for the Garibaldi Estates Neighbourhood Plan. Emerging ideas reflect public input received earlier in this planning process, as well as existing District policies (i.e. Official Community Plan). This page focuses on tree canopy retention in the neighbourhood.


  • Garibaldi Estates residents value the mature trees on private properties in the neighbourhood.
  • Development Permit Area guidelines could be enhanced to help preserve the existing tree canopy.
  • An Urban Forest Management Plan could be developed to support the protection and enhancement of urban forests and trees. This could preserve mature trees throughout Squamish during the development process, among other measures.

Tree Canopy Retention in the Garibaldi Estates

Emerging Idea: Update Development Permit Area Guidelines to strengthen protection of mature trees during development applications.

Emerging Idea: Develop an Urban Forest Management Plan for the District of Squamish. 

During community engagement for the Garibaldi Estates Neighbourhood Plan, a number of residents highlighted the importance of mature trees located on private properties within the neighbourhood. Residents highlighted the contribution these trees made to the character of the Garibaldi Estates, as well as their environmental benefits.

Two possible approaches could be used to support preservation of these trees.

  • First, Development Permit Area Guidelines could be enhanced. Development Permit Area 3 Universal guidelines could be strengthened regarding retention of mature trees through development applications, and a specific set of guidelines could be established that directs site planning for missing middle housing in infill properties to preserve existing mature trees.
  • Second, development of an Urban Forest Management Plan represents an opportunity to consider the preservation of mature trees not only for the Garibaldi Estates, but for the community as a whole. An Urban Forest Management Plan could include specific strategies

Development Permit Areas

Development Permit Areas are areas identified in the Official Community Plan where special requirements and guidelines have been established for any development or alteration of land. Squamish currently uses Development Permit Areas to guide how development occurs throughout the community. The existing Development Permit Areas could be updated with specific language that strengthens guidelines regarding the retention of mature trees through development applications. Specific guidelines applicable to missing middle housing forms on infill properties could be added that directs site planning to preserve existing mature trees.

Urban Forest Management Strategies

Urban Forest Management Strategies guide how municipalities protect and manage trees on public and private land in urban areas. They are defined as “a programmatic approach of the development and maintenance of the urban forest, including all elements of green infrastructure within the community, in an effort to optimize the resulting benefits in social, environmental, public health, economic, and aesthetic terms, especially when resulting from a community visioning and goal-setting process.”

Developing a Squamish Urban Forest Management Strategy

The value of completing an Urban Forest Management Strategies is to provide the public, Council and staff with a better understanding of the urban forest and what needs to be done to ensure a healthy urban forest legacy for future generations. Recommendations in Urban Forest Management Strategies guide staff in decisions on budgeting and prioritization of urban forest work including tree protection, maintenance and inventory programs, street, park and native tree planting and stewardship.

An Urban Forest Management Strategy could result in a number of outcomes, some of which include:

  • targets for tree canopy cover, and
  • regulations to protect significant established trees.

As part of the Urban Forest Management Plan, areas of tree cover within the community that include high value tree which and contribute to canopy cover could be identified. One example of regulations that could be used to protect these trees is a density bonus or height bonus system that that provides additional development opportunities on properties that preserve of these trees.

Current Squamish Tree Regulations and Policies

Trees and vegetation located within riparian areas, or Environmentally Sensitive Areas may be protected by guidelines included in the Official Community Plan Development Permit Area 1 – Environmental Protection. However, many private properties in Squamish, including almost all residential properties within the Garibaldi Estates are not subject to Development Permit Area 1

In addition, the District of Squamish has adopted a Tree Management Bylaw which requires a permit to remove significant trees (those having a diameter of 80 cm or more); however, this bylaw does not ensure the preservation of these trees, their removal can be enabled through the provision of replacement trees, or through a payment to the District’s Environmental Reserve Fund.