Urban Forest Strategy

Urban Forest Strategy Overview

An Urban Forest Strategy (UFS) will address the long-term management of trees on both public and private land in Sidney. The primary purpose of the UFS is to establish a clear vision and objectives for the future of Sidney’s urban forest and identify the policies and initiatives to achieve those objectives in the long term.

More specifically, the UFS will:
1. Assess the existing tree canopy cover and set related goals;
2. Address the long-term preservation, health, and distribution of trees in the Town, including potential changes bylaws/policies;
3. Review the existing policy and regulatory mechanisms for identifying and preserving significant treed areas;
4. Identify areas to potentially expand the urban tree canopy coverage (e.g., parks) and make related recommendations; and,
5. Create boulevard tree policies that inform the enhancement/replacement/expansion of our urban street trees.



Looking Back

Sidney is situated within the coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem and was a winter village site for the WSÁNEĆ People for thousands of years. Over the past 150 years, since the arrival of the first settlers, the Town rapidly transitioned from natural state to predominantly farmland to increasingly urbanized community. The natural forest was decimated by logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Our Urban Forest: Present

Sidney’s urban forest today is characterized by [a] limited key areas of more mature forest (e.g., Reay Creek Park, Brethour Park), [b] suburban areas with maturing trees on public and private land, [c] a downtown area with a lack of mature trees, and [d] multiple large urban parks with minimal tree cover (e.g., Rathdown).


Future: Visions & Objectives

A future vision for Sidney’s Urban Forest must consider a number of factors, including ecosystem health, tree protection and tree planting, beautification and urban design, maintenance and operations, accommodating new development and housing, and more.


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* 1. What is your vision for the future of our urban forest (30+ years)?


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* 2. What can we do to make your vision happen? (e.g. objectives, features, conditions to pursue)

Future: Goals & Targets

Sidney’s average tree canopy coverage is 14.4%, excluding foreshore areas and airport lands. Comparable municipalities include Victoria at 18%, Oak Bay at 33%, and Comox at 25%.

Municipalities are developing Urban Forest Strategies with a variety of different goals and targets. For example, the City of Duncan targets a 40% tree canopy cover by 2050, with an interim target of 30% by 2030; the District of Saanich targets no net loss to its canopy cover; and, the City of Vancouver targets 1 tree planted per 4 residents by 2020. American Forests, a leading research and conservation group, recommends establishing canopy cover targets by land use area; i.e., establishing higher targets as you move from more urban to more suburban areas.

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* 3. What suitable tree canopy coverage, tree planting, or "gain/loss" goals would you suggest for the Town?


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Areas of Significance

Sidney’s Environmentally Sensitive Areas will be reviewed in detail as part of a full OCP update in the (near) future. ESAs essentially facilitate conservation efforts in new development through protection of trees and other ecological features. In this way, ESAs contribute significantly to the urban forest. Please review the existing ESAs displayed below:

<strong><br><br><br>Areas of Significance<br><br></strong>Sidney’s Environmentally Sensitive Areas will be reviewed in detail as part of a full OCP update in the (near) future. ESAs essentially facilitate conservation efforts in new development through protection of trees and other ecological features. In this way, ESAs contribute significantly to the urban forest. Please review the existing ESAs displayed below:

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* 4. Do you have any comments about the existing ESAs with regard to protecting and enhancing the urban forest?


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* 5. Are there any notable stands of urban trees that you would suggest are in need of conservation?


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New Areas of Urban Forest

Sidney’s compact built form means that there is limited large, natural green spaces, and so our tree canopy coverage is a product of many, small incremental contributions. That said, there is a significant amount of public space – including parks and street rights-of-way – that has capacity for new tree plantings and increases in tree canopy coverage (along with its many benefits).

<strong><br><br><br>New Areas of Urban Forest<br><br></strong>Sidney’s compact built form means that there is limited large, natural green spaces, and so our tree canopy coverage is a product of many, small incremental contributions. That said, there is a significant amount of public space – including parks and street rights-of-way – that has capacity for new tree plantings and increases in tree canopy coverage (along with its many benefits).

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* 6. Are there any key areas (streets/boulevards, parks, etc.) that lack trees and should receive additional tree plantings to contribute to the urban forest?


Enhancing our Urban Forest

In addition to ESAs and planting trees in parks and streets, there are other ways to directly or indirectly enhance our urban forest. For example, Saanich has a Boulevard Tree Program in which the District provides and plants trees for free, and the homeowner is responsible for watering. Other municipalities have provided guidebooks for homeowners and developers, or found ways to increase the planting area / health of their street trees. Other indirect and creative solutions may also be suitable for Sidney.

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* 7. Do you have any ideas for ecological and beautification/urban design objectives that would enhance Sidney's urban forest?


Any Other Input?

Thank you for your feedback. Please use the space below to provide any other relevant input. Your feedback will inform the development of the Urban Forest Strategy. Another round of events with the public, stakeholders, and Parks staff in January/February will provide opportunity for feedback on an early draft of the Urban Forest Strategy.

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* 8. Do you have any additional input regarding the development of an Urban Forest Strategy for the Town of Sidney?

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