Clause embodied in Report No. 7 of the North York Community Council, as deferred by the North
York Community Council at its meeting held on June 24, 1998.
45(i)Refund of Reimbursement Paid for Damage to City Trees - 105 Wigmore Drive - Don Parkway.
The North York Community Council reports having deferred the following report to its next meeting to be held
on July 22, 1998:
(June 5, 1998) Commissioner, Economic Development, Culture and Tourism recommending that the $500.00 damage
reimbursement be retained by the City and applied towards the costs for City arborists to perform remedial pruning to
rectify the damage caused by the unauthorized and improper pruning of two trees in front of 105 Wigmore Drive.
June 5, 1998
To:North York Community Council
From:Joe Halstead, Commissioner, Economic Development, Culture and Tourism
SUBJECT:Request by Residents at 105 Wigmore Drive (Ward 11) for Refund of Reimbursement Paid for Damage to
The purpose of this report is to provide information to the North York Community Council in response to a request
from Mr. and Mrs. Camilleri, 105 Wigmore Drive, that they be refunded a $500.00 damage reimbursement which they
paid to the City for two City trees in front of their house (Appendix I).
Source of Funds:
With the exception of the $500 in question, there are no City funds required with respect to this matter.
It is recommended that:
(1)this reimbursement be retained by the City and applied towards the costs for City arborists to perform remedial
pruning to rectify damage caused by the unauthorized and improper pruning of two trees in front of 105 Wigmore
The residents of 105 Wigmore Drive have requested, through Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the refund of a damage
reimbursement which they paid to the Parks and Recreation Division, Urban Forestry Section (Appendix I). This sum
of $500.00 is intended to be used to partially offset the costs for Urban Forestry Field Services staff to perform
remedial pruning work on two City trees that were improperly pruned by a contractor hired by the residents, Mr. and
Mrs. Camilleri. This pruning had been done in contravention of North York Bylaw No. 31729 which states that, " No
person shall without the prior written authorization of the Commissioner, do or cause, or permit to be done, any of the
following: spray, fertilize, prune, trim, disturb, or alter a tree or any part of a tree." Under the by-law, "tree" refers to a
tree growing on the road allowance.
On March 24, 1998, Urban Forestry Inspectors noted that two City trees had been severely pruned at 105 Wigmore
Drive (Appendix II). Our records indicated that no authorization had been given to do this work. The two (2) trees in
question, a 72 cm (28 inch) Northern Catalpa and a 59 cm (23 inch) Silver Maple had been pollarded, a destructive
practice whereby the branches of a tree are excessively cut back to abrupt, thick stubs. At the very least, the appearance
of these trees has been destroyed and it will require time and money for several years of pruning to even partially
In addition, the trees are now much more likely to become safety hazards. New bark will be unable to grow over the
end of the stubs. The bark of a tree is its first line of defense against attack by insects or disease pathogens and the stubs
of these pollarded trees will now remain potential sites of entry for damaging insects or diseases and the resultant
decline and death of the trees. The severe cutting back of much of the trees' branches will also result in the proliferation
of many quickly growing, upright branches, called "water sprouts", to compensate. Water sprouts are unlike other
branches in that they are poorly attached to the tree and if left to grow will become hazards. These branches, as well as
the hazards created by the "stubbed" branches as they die back, will require monitoring and action by City staff to
maintain safety. This necessary remedial work, as well as pruning to correct the unsightliness of these trees, will have
to be spread over several years and will cost at least $1,300.00 in staff and equipment time over this period. This figure
does not include the loss of value in the trees due to poor pruning which has left them with an unnatural, displeasing
The Camilleris have agreed with Urban Forestry staff that the trees were "butchered" by their contractor. They maintain
that they were unaware of existing tree protection bylaws and they had been advised that trimming these trees was their
responsibility. We are unaware as to who would have told them this because it has never been our policy to place the
responsibility of City tree care on adjacent residents. We are certain that the Camilleris have not been directed to
perform this work by Parks and Recreation staff. The Urban Forestry section records all inspection requests and work
activities on City trees by municipal address on our computerized "Tree Management Information System (TMIS)".
These records indicate that no Urban Forestry staff have visited this address since the system was brought on-line in
The Parks and Recreation Division (North York Region) has communicated our tree policy to all North York residents.
Our bi-annual (formerly quarterly) newsletter of Programs and Services which is delivered to all North York
households has always included a section on City Street Trees advising residents that it is illegal to prune or interfere
with a tree growing on City property. The phone number of the City Forestry desk, which residents are directed to call
for assistance, is also included.
One recourse which staff may take in response to heavy tree damages like those at 105 Wigmore is to lay charges under
the by-law. The by-law carries a maximum fine of $5,000. In addition, compensatory damages may also be awarded.
However, based on a number of discussions with the Camilleris, it was agreed that no action would be taken if the
residents agreed to pay a portion of the costs for remedial work. The figure was set at $500.00 and the Camilleris sent a
cheque to the City.
Comments and/or Discussion and/or Justification:
Under the North York Street Tree By-law 31729 and its predecessor By-law 30022, care of the City's street trees is the
responsibility of the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation or his or her designate. It is illegal under the by-law to do
anything to a City tree without the prior authorization of the Commissioner.
The City employs trained Urban Forestry staff who apply their knowledge and experience to prune, remove and treat
disease or insect problems on the City's trees. This expertise is essential in ensuring that trees do not become safety
hazards, or that their appearance does not become a detriment to the neighbourhood. Provincial Offenses Officers in the
Parks and Recreation Division enforce the North York Street Bylaw No. 31729 employing firmness, fairness, and
consistency in their dealings to ensure that unauthorized practices are not undertaken on City trees that result in unsafe
or unsightly trees.
Where damage to City trees results from unauthorized work to the trees or in their vicinity, By-law Officers may
consider laying charges to serve as a deterrent to similar occurrences and to recoup damages. Where possible and in
order to maintain goodwill between residents and the City, court action will be avoided if a reasonable compromise can
be reached between parties. We believe that such a compromise had been agreed to as a result of our discussions with
the Camilleris and as a result did not pursue court action to recoup the City's losses, which were substantially more
The unauthorized and improper pruning of these trees has created a situation whereby the City is obligated to correct
bad work at an expense to the City. It is reasonable to require that the resident accept responsibility and pay at least
partial compensation for remedial work.
Supervisor of Urban Forestry and Environmental Services
Tel. No.: 416-395-7991
Fax. No.: 416-395-7937