Trees Planted on a Lush Green Lawn


Toronto Tree By-Laws Govern Tree Removal and Possibility of Injury to Trees

In some cases, homeowner plans for landscaping projects or exterior property upgrades may be rather elaborate and/or extensive in their nature.  Such plans may entail a major redesign of the property, excavation/construction using heavy machinery, and/or the removal of one or more trees; these trees may be dead, diseased, or just not in desired locations based on the new landscaping design.

While most homeowners are likely aware that building permits may be required based on the type and scope/size of their project, e.g.: green roofs, retaining walls, pool houses or cabanas, what might not be readily apparent is the need for a tree permit under certain circumstances.  That’s right; there are well-defined situations for which tree permits are required before any removal can take place or any construction work can begin.

As a significant portion of the urban forest in Toronto and the GTA is actually situated on private property, the city and many of its neighbouring municipalities have by-laws in place that govern trees on this type of land with respect to tree removal, tree cutting, or any other form of tree injury.  The driving forces behind these regulations consist of:

  • Promoting a healthier environment
  • Encouraging/supporting a greener community
  • Preservation of the urban forest (or tree canopy)

Accordingly, permits are needed to remove, cut, or otherwise injure trees that measure 30 centimetres or more in diameter at a height of 1.4 metres above ground levelMore information relative to the Urban Forestry By-Laws for the City of Toronto is available on their website.

It should be noted, however, that a permit is not required to remove a tree that is dead, diseased, or presents an imminent hazard; in these instances, though, a property owner must submit a detailed report prepared by a certified arborist and receive approval from the municipality’s Urban Forestry department before proceeding with any tree removal.

There have been a couple of references in this post to the need for a permit when there is a possibility of causing injury to a tree.  It may be beneficial to clarify circumstances when this would be applicable, as it can be relevant to certain types of landscaping work. Actions that can be associated with injuring a tree and/or its roots would include:

  • Undue or unwarranted pruning
  • Major construction or excavation
  • Operation of heavy equipment/machinery
  • Construction of building additions or extensions
  • Excessive foot traffic within proximity of the tree

If residential property owners in Toronto and the GTA are planning an extensive redesign or overhauling of their current landscaping and suspect that they might be exposing a tree or trees to injury, they may want to consult with landscape design and construction professionals such as the team from Landcare.

A Tree Replacement/Planting Plan Must Accompany Permits for Tree Removals

Tree Pruning Service Arborist Trimming BranchesAs part of the Toronto and area tree by-laws, permit applications for the removal of any trees must be accompanied by a landscaping/tree replacement plan.  This is a central aspect to ensuring the preservation of the urban forest; in essence, it would be rather irresponsible to allow or permit tree removals without countermeasures to replenish the environment with new growth.

A landscaping/tree replacement plan must contain all of the following information when it is submitted in tandem with a tree permit application:

  • Replacement ratio – from 1-4 trees depending on the situation
  • Replacement species – customarily native deciduous shade trees
  • Size of the trees at the time of planting – reported in millimetres
  • Location of planting on the property – shown by hand-drawn map
  • Approximate time when tree plantings will occur – month and year

Once again, insight from the Landcare team may prove valuable in developing this plan, notably with respect to the overall landscape design and incorporation of the new tree planting locations throughout the property.

When planning your new landscape design, consider the experience and expertise of the team from Landcare.  The Landcare experts can advise on any number of design-related matters, including the aspects of tree removal, tree planting, and/or possible tree injury.  Call Landcare today at 416-410-0320 to discuss your landscape design and construction needs, including any circumstances that may require the application for a tree permit to comply with your municipal by-laws.