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Trees
   
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Trees

Question Why do leaves change colour in the fall?
Answer Leaves change colour due to biochemical processes within them that are triggered by diminishing amounts of daylight, longer nights, and weather factors.

Leaves contain three types of natural substances called pigments which determine leaf colour both during the growing season and in the fall. Chlorophyll is the dominant pigment in most leaves and it gives them their green colour in spring and summer. As autumn approaches and the nights get longer, chlorophyll disappears revealing the pigments called carotenoids which give some leaves their yellow, orange, and brown fall colours.

In some species, such as the red and sugar maples, bright sunny days and lower evening temperatures combine to cause an excess of sugars produced in the leaves which then create a red pigment called anthocyanin, turning these leaves striking shades of red and purple.

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Question May I remove the crab apple tree from the City road allowance in front of my house?
Answer Apple and crab apple trees can be a significant nuisance to some people (e.g. where a potential safety hazard is created due to fruit falling onto City sidewalks, private walkways and driveways). If the City owned apple or crab apple tree in front of your house is creating a potential safety hazard due to fruit falling onto the sidewalk, private walkways or driveways, Urban Forestry may authorize the removal of the tree subject to the following conditions being met:
  • You must submit your request for tree removal in writing and send it to Urban Forestry. Urban Forestry staff will assess the merits of each request for tree removal on an individual basis. If tree removal is approved, you must submit payment in the amount of $350 toward the cost of removing the tree. If more than one healthy tree is requested for removal at the same address, a $275 fee will be charged for each additional tree. City staff must perform all tree removals. A standard bare root tree (approximately 5 - 8 ft. tall) will be planted by Urban Forestry staff as a replacement tree, but if you wish to have a larger balled and burlapped tree instead of the standard bare root tree, you will be required to pay for the cost of the upgraded tree (currently $424) in addition to the $350 fee for the removal. You must submit your request for tree removal in writing and send it to Urban Forestry.
  • Visit: www.toronto.ca/trees/pdfs/CrabAppleRemovalPolicyFeb2002.pdf

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Question Can I prune the branches from my neighbour's tree, that overhang my property?
Answer Three main points to remember when dealing with trees on adjacent private property are that:
  1. You cannot trespass onto your neighbour's property;
  2. You cannot damage your neighbour's property (in this case a tree); and
  3. You have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition
  • It is therefore best for property owners to come to an agreement between themselves with respect to trees overhanging property lines.
  • If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, you should contact a lawyer.
  • The act of pruning trees on neighbouring private property affects private property rights and is a civil issue between private property owners.
  • The City has no jurisdiction with respect to such issues.
  • Where a tree on private property is protected under the provisions of the Private Tree Bylaw, pruning of the tree is permitted provided the pruning is in accordance with good arboricultural standards. Otherwise, a permit would be required to injure or destroy the tree.
  • A qualified tree expert should always be retained to carry out tree pruning.

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Question Will the City remove the bees, wasps or hornets nest in the City tree located in front of my house?
Answer
  • It is a policy of the City of Toronto, Urban Forestry to leave wasp nests in trees where possible given the benefits of many wasp species as a natural control agent for other insect pests.
  • If staff safety is not jeopardized, City of Toronto Urban Forestry will spray the nests of bees, wasps and hornets in trees which are situated on, or overhang City property (road allowance and parkland) if the nest is deemed to be a safety concern to the public.
  • Nests which are in a tree and located more than 3m above ground level, are typically not treated.
  • If the nests are located close enough to the ground and threaten public safety, Urban Forestry will inspect the site and decide on appropriate further action.
  • This policy applies only to bee, wasp and hornet's nests in trees and does not include nests found in hedges, utility boxes, on light standards or in ground. Visit: www.toronto.ca/trees/pdfs/BeesWaspsHornetsPolicyMarch2003.pdf

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Question The City tree roots are blocking my drains. Can I get this tree removed?
Answer
  • Tree roots do not cause drains or sewer pipes to break, but they will invade and clog drains that have pre-existing cracks and resultant leakage.
  • Drains are usually six to eight feet below ground level, while tree roots grow almost exclusively in the upper two feet of soil, because they not only need nutrients, but also oxygen to survive. When drains leak, they provide oxygen and nutrient rich water deep in the soil, which allow tree roots to grow deep into the soil and get into the already cracked drain pipe.
  • It is the policy of City Council to not approve the removal of trees due to drain and / or sewer blockages.
  • Replacement of old drains or weeping tiles with new PVC piping, continuous between the house and sewer, eliminates future blockages by tree roots.
  • More information about tree roots and broken or clogged drain pipes(PDF)

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Question The City tree is lifting my sidewalk and driveway. Can I get this tree removed?
Answer If the damage is located within the City owned street allowance, there is no liability against the City to pay for these claims. If the damage is on private property, claims are investigated individually to determine the City's liability.

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Question There is a City tree in front of my house that I don't want. How do I get the tree removed?
Answer The planting, care and maintenance, protection, preservation and removal of all trees located on any City street shall be under supervision of the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
  • No person shall remove, cut down, destroy or injure any tree or part of a tree located on a City street except with the prior written approval of the General Manager.
  • If you would like to make an application to remove a City tree, you must submit your request in writing and provide the reason for wanting the tree removed.
  • Urban Forestry will inspect the tree to determine if it is a candidate for routine removal.
  • If the tree qualifies for removal due to it's poor health or unsafe condition, we will schedule the tree for removal and a new tree will be scheduled for planting.
  • If the tree is healthy and does not qualify for removal, you will be required to submit an application form (pdf) with the $300 per tree fee. Consultation with the Ward Councillor is the next step in the process, after which you will be advised if your request has been denied or approved with conditions. Requests for removal of healthy City-owned trees that are refused may be referred to the appropriate Community Council. If City Council approves your request for tree removal, such approval will be subject to your paying for the appraised tree value, removal and replacement costs. You will also be required to plant a new tree on the City property.

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Question Do I need permission to cut down a tree on my property?
Answer
  • City of Toronto By-laws respecting trees and the City's Official Plan provide for the protection of trees situated on both private and City property.
  • Trees on private property having a diameter of 30 cm or greater at 1.4 metres above ground level are subject to protection under City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Trees, Article III. Visit www.toronto.ca/trees/private_trees.htm
  • It is unlawful to injure or destroy such trees without first obtaining a permit from Urban Forestry to do so; there are certain exemptions under each by-law.
  • A person convicted of an offence under this by-law is liable:
       (1) To a minimum fine of $500.00 per tree and to a maximum
            fine of $100,000.00 per tree.
       (2) To a special fine of $100,000.00
  • If you wish to injure or destroy a tree protected under the provisions of the Private Tree Bylaw, you must submit an application (PDF) and receive a permit to do so. Submission of an application does not guarantee that a permit will be issued. Please note that the following items must be submitted with all permit applications:
  1. A Completed Permit Application form
  2. A Completed Owner's Authorization form - if the owner has not signed the Permit Application
  3. A detailed Arborist Report
  4. A Landscape/Replanting Plan - this must be filed with all permit application forms
  5. Tree Protection Plan (as applicable)
  6. Site Plans - for applications which involve construction, existing trees must be accurately plotted on the Site Plan
  7. 2 Copies of recent legal plan of Survey with Ravine Protection Line if property is on a ravine
  8. Permit Application Fee
Permit Application fees are $100 per tree for non-construction related permit applications and $300 per tree for construction related permit applications. Permit Application fees are non-refundable and must be submitted at the time of initial Permit Application submission.

Permit applications will not be processed unless all required documents have been submitted. If you have any questions pertaining to the City of Toronto's Private Tree By-law, please call 311 for more information.

A tree that is dead, terminally diseased or imminently hazardous does not require a permit, however, the applicant must submit a detailed arborist report to Urban Forestry providing details on the condition of the tree(s) in question.

Trees of all diameters on private property within Ravine Protection Areas of the City of Toronto, are protected under the provisions of City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 658, Ravines.
Visit www.toronto.ca/trees/ravines.htm

Privately-owned trees, that do not qualify for protection under the private tree or the Ravine and Natural Feature protection by-law that were planted as a condition of site plan approval and incorporated into a site plan agreement which was registered on title are required to be maintained substantially in conformity with the approved drawings. Contact City Planning (PDF) for further information.

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Question Can the City of Toronto recommend a tree service company who I can hire to prune or work on my trees?
Answer
  • The City of Toronto cannot recommend specific tree service companies.
    Check the Yellow Pages or similar business directories such as The Gold Book. An internet search using keyphrases such as "tree service companies Toronto" should provide listings as well.
  • We recommend that a property owner retain a company that has a certified or registered consulting arborist on staff.
  • Arborists are certified with the International Society of Arboriculture (I.S.A.) or registered with the American Society of Consulting Arborists (A.S.C.A.).
  • Many of the advertisements in the Yellow Pages will note if the company has a certified or registered consulting arborist on staff.
  • We also recommend that a property owner obtain several quotes and recommendations for the tree work.
  • Most companies will provide free estimates, but callers should confirm that there will be no charge for such a visit and estimate.
  • Verify if the company has insurance coverage, just in case of any property damage or personal injury as a result of the tree work.

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Question I called Urban Forestry to arrange for an inspection of my tree, how long do I have to wait for the inspection and for any required tree maintenance to be completed?
Answer After your request for tree work is received, an Urban Forestry Arborist Inspector inspects the tree and determines what work is necessary. The tree inspection will typically be completed within 8 weeks. You will know that the inspector has inspected the tree because he/she will leave an inspection card for you to identify what work will be done. The required tree maintenance will then be completed on a priority basis based on the assessment of the tree.

Our first priority is to maintain public safety after an emergency or storm related event by removing hazards. All other tree work is handled in priority sequence, and is grouped by area whenever possible in order to be most efficient. Some requests for routine pruning may take up to 9 months to respond to, but that delay will not harm the health of the tree. Stump removal may be delayed by a few months more. Tree planting would then follow in the most appropriate season once the site is available for planting.

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Question Can I prune a City owned tree?
Answer Only City of Toronto Urban Forestry staff, and under certain circumstances authorized certified private arborists, can perform maintenance on City owned trees.

To expedite non-emergency tree maintenance on City owned trees a homeowner may complete a form entitled "Agreement for Contractors to Perform Arboricultural Services on City Owned Street Trees". Completing this form enables a property owner to contract standard tree maintenance work to a City approved tree service company (at their own expense). This option is made available in the event that the property owner wishes to expedite a request for standard tree maintenance. Please visit the following link for the form noted above. www.toronto.ca/trees/pdfs/contractor_services_agreement_information.pdf

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Question Can I purchase a commemorative tree or bench?
Answer Information about commemorative trees and benches can be found on the Parks website.

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Question Where can I find information about the Asian Long-Horned Beetle?
Answer The Urban Forestry website has information at www.toronto.ca/trees. More detailed information can be found contacting the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at 1-800-442-2342 or visiting their website at www.inspection.gc.ca.

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Question Where can I find information about the European Gypsy Moth?
Answer Urban Forestry has information about the European Gypsy Moth on their web pages. Forestry will inspect heavily infested trees on city property only and the number to call is 311. For private property trees, please call a tree service company (listed in the Yellow Pages).

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Question How can I get the City to plant a free tree in front of my home?
Answer Urban Forestry plants trees on City street allowances fronting residential properties for free. Please visit toronto.ca/311 or call 311 within Toronto city limits & 416-392-CITY (2489) outside city limits to obtain an application form for tree planting.

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Question Why are tree roots important to protect?
Answer Most people know that tree roots stabilize a tree. However, that is only part of their job. Most people don't realize that roots absorb oxygen out of the soil. Tree roots absorb air, water and nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus from the soil then convey these elements to the rest of the tree. All of these are essential for the trees growth and overall health. Tree roots also store starches that are produced during the growing season. If a tree's roots are damaged then the tree will become stressed, its health will decline and it will die.

Tree roots also stabilize the tree in a vertical position, especially those roots that grow horizontally from the base of the trunk or stem, known as the root flare. Please visit the following link to view a diagram of a trees root and crown structure. www.toronto.ca/trees/pdfs/TreeProtSpecs.pdf

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Question How does soil compaction affect trees?
Answer Soil compaction occurs when vehicles, heavy equipment, large metal bins, or construction materials are placed or travel anywhere under the crown of a tree. As a result of compaction, air pockets in the ground are eliminated and this reduces the available amount of air and water that trees need to stay healthy. Roots in compacted soil are thus deprived of what they need and are unable to supply these essential ingredients to the rest of the tree, resulting in the tree becoming stressed and declining in health.

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Question What causes leaves to fall in autumn?
Answer Deciduous or broadleaved trees need to prepare for the oncoming cold winter temperatures. Soft leaf tissue and the fluids inside leaves would freeze. In autumn a layer of cells forms at the base of each leaf which blocks the veins that convey the fluids into and out of the leaf. As a result, the leaves slowly die then drop off. This strategy protects the rest of the tree from the effects of the cold.

Evergreen trees, also known as conifers or cone bearing trees, such as pine and spruce are able to retain their needle-like leaves in winter due to a protective waxy covering and to substances inside their leaves that resist freezing. Their needles stay on the tree for about two to three years before they drop off.

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Question Is it okay to prune trees in the winter?
Answer Yes, trees can be pruned any season including winter. Some tree species, such as birches or maples exude more sap when pruned in the spring, and such large quantities of sap can be unsightly. Also sap exuded from a tree after pruning can turn black if mildew grows in this sweet water solution. Excess sap can be washed off trees with a hose before the water evaporates and the residual sugar hardens.

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Question Can I take firewood (wood, wood chips) out of the City?
Answer Due to the presence of the Asian Long-Horned Beetle (ALHB) and the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the City of Toronto, restrictions related to the movement of wood material have been put in place. For Asian Long-Horned Beetle, there are now prohibitions or restrictions of movement on nursery stock, trees, leaves, logs, lumber, wood, wood chips and bark chips from certain deciduous trees identified as hosts of the ALHB, and firewood of all species. Unless authorized by a Movement Certificate issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), their movement out of or through the Regulated Area is prohibited. Please visit the following link for information on the Regulated Area. With respect to the EAB infestation in Toronto, the CFIA has instituted a quarantine zone through a Ministerial Order which encompasses the entire City of Toronto and surrounding municipalities. There are now prohibitions or restrictions of movement on nursery stock, trees, leaves, logs, lumber, wood, wood chips and bark chips from all ash species, and firewood of all species. Unless authorized by a Movement Certificate issued by the CFIA, their movement out of the quarantine zone is prohibited. This is necessary to prevent the spread of the ALHB and EAB throughout Toronto and un-infested areas in the rest of Ontario and Canada.

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Question Can I use dead ash wood in my neighbourhood or from the regulated area to burn for firewood in Toronto.
Answer Yes, as long as the firewood originates from within the regulated area of Hamilton, Toronto, Durham, York, Peel and Halton OR if the firewood originates from an area that is not regulated for EAB, you may use it. You cannot move any firewood from another regulated area into Toronto.

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Question Where can I dispose of wood?
Answer Presently, any ash and ALHB host material that meets the criteria for yard waste will be collected during regularly-scheduled pick ups by Solid Waste. Ash material, ALHB host material originating from within the Regulated Area for ALHB and firewood of any species that is too large for yard waste collection may be disposed of at the Dufferin Transfer Station, 35 Vanley Crescent (south of Finch off Chesswood Drive). Additional information is available by phoning 416-392-3161.
Hours of operation for the Dufferin Transfer Station are:
Monday - Friday: 6a.m. - 6p.m
Closed to Residential Loads 8a.m. - 4p.m. Tuesday - Friday
Saturday and Sunday - Closed

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Question Can I get firewood or wood chips from the city?
Answer The City of Toronto is no longer able to provide firewood or wood chips to the public due to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle (ALHB) and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) insect infestations. After pruning or removing a City-owned street tree, Urban Forestry will not leave firewood on site for residents. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed restrictions on the movement of firewood and wood chips in order to prevent the spread of the ALHB and EAB throughout Toronto and un-infested areas in the rest of Ontario and Canada.

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