Significant trees on private property or City streets are protected under Municipal Code, Chapter 813, known as the Tree Protection By-law. If you intend to injure or destroy (remove) a protected tree you must obtain a permit.
Any activity that could result in injury, destruction or removal of a protected tree is prohibited, unless authorized with a permit under the appropriate Tree Protection By-law.
Protected trees are:
You need a permit for any activity that could result in injury, destruction or removal of a protected tree. Such activities include, but are not limited to the following:
An injury to a tree occurs if any of the above mentioned activities take place within the root zone of a tree. A permit is required if root injury occurs within the Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) determined by Urban Forestry as per Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees.
For more information contact Urban Forestry at email@example.com
There are different criteria for submitting an Application to Injure a Tree and submitting an Application to Destroy a Tree.
The following items must be submitted to complete your Application to Injure or Destroy Trees.
Please see Terms and Definitions below for detailed explanations.
Please note that incomplete applications will not be processed. If an application is incomplete, the City will advise in writing which items are necessary to complete the application. Permit applications will expire one year from the date of submission
Take completed application form with all supplementary documents and required fee to the appropriate Urban Forestry Tree Protection and Plan Review (TPPR) district office.
Submission of an application does not guarantee that a permit will be issued. Urban Forestry will only consider the provisions of the private tree by-law when making a determination regarding permit issuance.
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Urban Forestry staff will review the application to ensure that it is complete. Staff will notify the applicant in writing of any missing items. Once the application package is complete, Urban Forestry staff will conduct a site visit to verify the application details and to determine if a permit may be issued and/or if a public notification process is required.
Where required by the Private Tree bylaw, a public ‘Notice of Application’ to destroy healthy tree(s) will be posted on the subject property for a period of no less than fourteen (14) days. The by-law does not authorize Urban Forestry to consider comments received in response to the posting during review of an application.
In cases where the application is posted by Urban Forestry, approval of the landscaping and replanting plan is required by the ward councillor. Comments collected during the posting are provided to the councillor at this stage. Where Urban Forestry denies an application and the applicant appeals the decision to City Council through Community Council, comments are provided upon request to councillors.
Urban Forestry may approve a request for injury or removal of a tree protected under Private Tree By-law, subject to following conditions:
Urban Forestry may approve a request for injury or removal of a tree protected under Trees on City Streets By-law, subject to conditions such as:
An arborist is an expert in the care and maintenance of trees. These experts may be qualified by:
or any other similar association as approved by the General Manager.
You may find professional tree service companies who prepare arborist reports in the Yellow Pages under “Tree Services”. An internet search using key phrases such as “tree service companies Toronto” should provide listings as well.
Arborists are certified by ISA, ASCA or RPF conform to a code of conduct identified by their association.
An arborist report is a technical report which details specific and accurate information about the trees, such as location, species, size, condition, structural integrity, disease, infestations and vigour. In his report, the arborist will assess the nature of the proposed work and identify appropriate tree protection measures.
Urban Forestry staff use the information from the arborist report to review the proposed tree removal and/or injury. When an accurate arborist report is provided, Urban Forestry staff can review the submitted application efficiently and with fewer delays.
If the base of a tree straddles the property line (boundary tree), either property owner may apply for a permit to injure or remove that tree.
If the crown or the roots of a tree physically impacts another property (neighbour tree), the owner of the impacted property may apply for a permit to injure or remove the tree that is impacting their property.
At the time the application is submitted, the applicant must clearly identify all boundary and/or neighbour trees.
If Urban Forestry determines that any part of a subject tree’s trunk appears to be growing across one or more property lines, they will require that the applicant submit the outstanding application fee. If the applicant wishes to refute Urban Forestry’s assessment, they will be required to submit an up to date property survey.
When an application involves boundary or neighbour tree(s), Urban Forestry will notify the tree owners or co-owners with a written notice.
If the neighbour or the co-owner requests, Urban Forestry will provide the information submitted with the application for their review.
Information submitted with an application includes arborist report, tree protection plan, landscaping and replanting plan or plan of survey.
Urban Forestry will issue a second written notification to the owners of a boundary or a neighbour tree at least fifteen days before they issue a permit to injure and/or remove their tree(s).
A permit to injure or remove a boundary or neighbour tree does not supersede any civil or common law property rights. The permit only acknowledges that the proposed injury or removal, if carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions of the permit, will not constitute a violation of the Private Tree Bylaw. The permit does not determine ownership and does not authorize the applicant to encroach or enter upon another’s private property or to remove a tree owned by another without their consent.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to resolve any ownership issues or other property disputes.
Construction details must include the details of existing and proposed structures and/or proposed grade changes within or nearby the tree protection zone of any City-owned tree(s) or private tree(s) measuring 30 cm or greater in diameter at 1.4 m above ground. Construction details shall include details about buildings foundation such as footings, slab-on grade, piers, etc. These details will help your arborist and Urban Forestry staff determine the impact that the proposed work will have on the tree’s roots. All drawings must be legible and at a useable scale. Scaled-down faxed/photocopied copies are not acceptable.
If Urban Forestry denies your permit to injure or destroy trees, you will be notified in writing. You can appeal this decision to the City Council through Community Council by notifying Urban Forestry in writing. Staff will prepare the appeal report to Community Council, and make a recommendation for the final decision at the City Council. The City Clerk will notify you of the meeting date. At the meeting, you will have the opportunity to present your information. City Council’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Diameter at breast height, DBH, is a standard way of expressing the diameter of a standing tree. DBH refers to the average width of the tree trunk measured at 1.4 m above the ground.
You can calculate the diameter of a tree (DBH) by dividing the value of its circumference (C) by number pi (∏ = 3.1416…). DBH = C/∏.
Circumference is the distance around the trunk. Measuring circumference is just like measuring your waist. To determine DBH, circumference must be measured at 1.4 m (4 ½ feet) above ground level which is approximately at shoulder height.
Divide the measured circumference value by 3.14. This will give you the DBH value. A tree with a DBH of 30 cm (12 inches) has a circumference of 94.2 cm (37 inches).
Measuring the diameter of a tree growing on an angle
For trees growing on an angle from a horizontal grade and for trees growing vertical on slopes, (see Figs. 2 and 3), the diameter shall be measured at right angles to the stem 1.4 metres along the centre of the stem axis.
For double-stem or multi-stemmed trees, the diameter measurement is to be taken at a height of 1.4 metres above ground level for each stem. Where at least one stem measures 30 cm in diameter or greater, the tree (including all stems) is protected under the by-law. The diameter of the largest stem is used to determine the TPZ for the multi-stemmed tree.
Elevation drawings show the front, side and rear views of the proposed structure. These drawings help your arborist and Urban Forestry staff determine the extent of canopy pruning that may be required where the trees are close to the proposed structures. The canopy of a deciduous tree may extend further than the tree protection zone. You will need a permit for excessive canopy pruning, even if you are able to erect tree protection hoarding at the required minimum tree protection distance. Elevation drawings also show the depth and nature of excavation for footings, supporting piers or basements.
All drawings must be legible and at a useable scale. Scaled-down faxed/photocopied copies are not acceptable.
A permit is not required in following situations:
A permit is not required to prune a tree, as long as it is done in accordance with good arboricultural practices, to maintain the health of the tree.
For any tree work, we encourage you to retain the services of a Certified or Registered Consulting Arborist, a Registered Professional Forester or other tree care specialist with similar qualifications acceptable to Urban Forestry.
A tree that is destabilized or structurally compromised tree that poses an imminent danger to life or the property.
Various diseases affect trees, however not all diseases will lead to the death of a tree. The by-law excludes those trees that are terminally diseased to expedite their removal, minimize risk to other trees and eliminate potential risk to people or property. A permit is required for trees that are in poor condition.
A permit is not required to remove ash trees that are infested with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).
To obtain an exception, contact 311 Toronto. 311 representative will ask about the signs and symptoms of EAB infestation that you have observed. Urban Forestry will use the collected information to better understand the progress and speed of the infestation across the City. The 311 staff will provide a verbal exception and a reference number.
This process also applies to ash trees located in the areas protected under Ravine and Natural Feature Protection Bylaw.
In the interest of safety, Urban Forestry recommends that property owners hire a qualified arborist to remove trees.
For information on disposal of ash trees including brush, wood and wood chips from these trees, please see 311 website – Disposal of wood – brush – leaves – from an Ash tree or Asian Long-horned Beetle regulated area.
You are not required to submit an application form, an application fee or a replanting plan for a Permit Exception.
Although the replanting of trees is not a condition of the exception, we encourage property owners to plant a new tree on the property to replace the one being removed.
The quickest and easiest way to receive exception confirmation is to submit an arborist report and digital photographs of the subject tree by email to the appropriate Tree Protection and Plan Review District Office.
Please put your address as the subject heading of your email to expedite processing. Alternatively, you may mail or drop off in person your arborist report and photos to the appropriate District Office. If you do not have access to email or a digital camera, you may fax a detailed arborist report to the appropriate District Offices.
You must receive confirmation from Urban Forestry before proceeding with the removal of the tree unless immediate tree work is required to eliminate a dangerous situation. If Urban Forestry determines that a tree does not qualify for an exception, you will need to submit a complete permit application.
Please note that privately-owned trees that were planted as a condition of site plan approval and were incorporated into a site plan agreement which was registered on title must be maintained substantially in agreement with the approved drawings regardless of their size. Contact City Planning for further information.
Urban Forestry requires guarantee deposits to:
Urban Forestry collects the following deposits:
Urban Forestry collects guarantee deposits under the authority of:
The applicant can submit the required deposit(s) at Urban Forestry service counters including the Ravine and Natural Feature Protection service counter. Acceptable methods of payment for guarantee deposits are: debit, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, money order, certified cheque, bank draft or letter of credit payable to Treasurer, City of Toronto. Collected funds will be held in a non-interest bearing account.
For each tree to be planted on City streets or within the Ravine Protected Area (excluding trees in a stewardship/ naturalization plan) the current value is $583.00 per tree. This value is equal to 120 percent of the cost of planting and maintaining a tree for a period of two years.
For the implementation of a stewardship/naturalization plan within the Ravine Protected Area the guarantee deposit is calculated as 120 percent of the estimated cost to plan, implement and maintain a stewardship/naturalization plan. In the absence of a cost estimate the City will apply a cost of $25/m2 of the area proposed for stewardship/naturalization.
For the Tree Protection Guarantee where work may impact City street trees the value is determined using the City’s tree appraisal method, based on the formula by Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers (CTLA) in association with International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). The appraised tree value calculation is based on the tree diameter, species, condition and location. The value also includes removal costs and the cost for a replacement tree.
Deposits collected by Urban Forestry are subject to conditions agreed upon and outlined in the Urban Forestry Guarantee Deposit Form which is completed when the deposit is submitted.
Urban Forestry will release deposits once all construction activities are complete and all permit conditions have been met. Failure to comply with the conditions of the permit may be considered a contravention of the by-laws and contravention inspection fees and charges may apply, as described below under ‘Tree Protection Bylaw Contraventions’.
Once Urban Forestry has authorized the refund of a deposit, City Corporate Finance will process the request and issue a cheque by mail. Cheques are not available for pick up in person. It takes approximately eight (8) weeks to process the request.
To initiate an inspection by Urban Forestry, the requestor shall submit:
Once the request is received, Urban Forestry staff will inspect the site to determine if the guarantee deposit can be released and communicate the results back to the requestor.
Anyone can request the refund of a Guarantee Deposit (as a requestor), however the refund cheque will only be made out to the original payee. The payee is the individual named on the original method of payment for any Guarantee Deposit, fee or other payment type made to the City of Toronto including credit, debit, certified cheque, money order, bank draft or Letter of Credit. If the cheque needs to be issued to anyone other than the payee, Urban Forestry will require written consent from the payee and potentially supplemental documentation (under certain circumstances).
Guarantee Deposits for tree planting on City streets will be released when Urban Forestry confirms that replacement trees are healthy and in a state of vigorous growth two (2) years after planting.
NOTE: The applicant must send photos of the planting and if necessary arrange for an inspection by Urban Forestry immediately after planting is completed to start the two (2) year warranty period.
Two years following the initial inspection date, the applicant must contact Urban Forestry and submit the Guarantee Deposits Refund Request with photos of the planting. If necessary Urban Forestry will arrange for a follow up site inspection to confirm that the trees are planted to the satisfaction of Urban Forestry.
Guarantee Deposits for trees planted within Ravine Protected Area (excluding stewardship and naturalization) will be released when Urban Forestry confirms that trees were planted to the satisfaction of Urban Forestry. The applicant shall initiate the Guarantee Deposit refund process immediately after the planting is completed.
Tree Planting Security Deposit for stewardship/naturalization within the Ravine Protected Area. The implementation of stewardship/naturalization plans can take many years. Urban Forestry will provide partial refunds for each stewardship /naturalization step as outlined in the cost estimate on file as the work progresses. Refund amounts will be proportional to the work completed at each stage (year).
The applicant shall initiate the guarantee deposit refund process immediately after completion of a stewardship/naturalization stage. The process of inspection and partial release ends when the entire stewardship plan is completed to the satisfaction of Urban Forestry
Tree Protection Guarantee where work may impact City street trees will be returned when:
Upon review of the photos or following inspection, Urban Forestry staff will authorize the removal of tree protection measures and initiate a refund of the deposit.
A Tree Protection Guarantee could be held for at least 2 years following construction activity if any of the following activities are observed and documented on site.
Urban Forestry will review such damages and impacts on a case by case basis. Determination of continued deposit holds will be communicated to you in writing. Disputes related to a continued hold of a deposit can be addressed by the district Supervisor and escalated as required through the City’s Complaint process.
Urban Forestry will retain Tree Protection Guarantees if after the two (2) year deposit hold the tree is in decline and no longer viable. The forfeited funds will be transferred to a tree planting fund. If the funds will be forfeited the applicant will be advised by Urban Forestry in writing.
Urban Forestry will retain guarantee deposit for tree planting if the applicant does not successfully plant healthy and viable trees by the required date specified in the related permit. At that time, Urban Forestry will require that the applicant:
If a protected City tree is a subject of a contravention that was confirmed with a contravention inspection and an Order to Comply with an associated Cover Letter, and / or Stop Work Order issued by Urban Forestry, the tree protection guarantee on file will be retained for a minimum of two years following the date of the contravention to allow for the monitoring of the condition of the subject tree(s).
A landscape/replanting plan illustrates the replacement tree(s) to be planted. It must include the following information:
Where there is inadequate space for replanting, Urban Forestry will accept “cash in lieu” of replanting, in the amount of $583 per tree. Accepted methods of payment include certified cheque or money order. Please make all amounts payable to the “Treasurer of the City of Toronto.”
Tree removal permits are issued subject to the condition that the applicants plant new trees. All trees planted as a condition of permit issuance are protected by the by-law regardless of size. This helps to ensure the future of the urban canopy in accordance with the City Council approved Toronto’s Strategic Forest Management Plan.
You must notify Urban Forestry after you have completed any of the following requirements:
After they receive your notification, Urban Forestry staff will visit the site to verify that the required work was completed to their satisfaction.
Also, you must notify Urban Forestry at the end of construction to obtain approval to remove tree protection hoarding
For the purposes of making an application under Chapter 813, the owner is defined as
It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine the tree ownership. The owners of adjacent properties shall resolve between themselves any tree related civil or common-law issues. A permit that Urban Forestry had issued, does not grant authority to encroach in any manner or to enter onto adjacent private properties.
The Owner’s Authorization section must be completed if the arborist, or someone else acting on behalf of the owner, is submitting the application.
You are required to submit photos to accompany your application. Having good photos on file may reduce the number of site visits required and so speed up the process of reviewing your application. Urban Forestry may waive the requirement for photos in certain circumstances.
Urban Forestry will also require photos of planted trees or of completed construction work to approve the release of security deposit.
To proceed with the permitted activity, you must post the permit in a conspicuous location visible from the street for a period of one day. The permit must remain posted until the approved tree injury or removal has been completed in accordance with the permit.
Significant tree is a tree protected under a tree protection bylaw.
From the perspective of Private Tree Protection bylaw (C. 813, Article III), a significant tree is every tree, with a diameter of 30cm or more, regardless of species.
From the perspective of Trees on City Streets Bylaw (C. 813, Article II) and Ravine and Natural Feature Protection Bylaw, a tree of any size or any species is a significant tree.
A site plans submitted with a permit application under Chapter 813, Trees must satisfy the following requirements:
Applications which lack the following information will be considered incomplete and will not be processed.
If the property is located near a river, creek or a steep slope, it may be regulated under RNFP bylaw.
If your property is located within a ravine protected area, you must show the exact location of the limit of the RNFP area on your survey and any other plan that you will submit with your application.
The City of Toronto, Information and Technology, Geospatial Products and Services, Map Service can accurately mark this line on your plan of survey. To contact Map Service Counter, call 416-392-2506 between 8:30AM and 4:30PM or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a fee associated with this service.
A tree injury is any act that will harm a tree’s health in any manner. Also, failing to protect a tree according to the City standards is considered a tree injury.
A tree’s roots may extend 2-3 times the width of the canopy. Disturbing these roots with excavation or compaction may lead to the decline and eventual death of a tree. A tree with severed roots may become destabilized and hazardous. Tree protection barriers, as approved by Urban Forestry, must be erected at or beyond the minimum required Tree Protection Zone (TPZ). The extent of TPZ depends on the tree diameter and is shown on the provided chart.
If you cannot provide a full TPZ on site, you will need to obtain a permit to injure or destroy (remove) a tree.
Pruning a tree in excess of good arboricultural practices may have negative impacts on the health of a tree and may require an injury permit.
Please note that you are not only required to protect trees on your property, but also those on adjacent properties.
For details about tree protection requirements, please review the city of Toronto’s Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees.
Contravention Inspection fees are collected under the authority of:
Urban Forestry staff will conduct an investigation to determine compliance with the provisions of Municipal Code Chapters 608, 658 and 813 and to determine compliance with the conditions of a permit issued under Municipal Code Chapters 658 and 813. Contravention Inspection Fees are applied to each bylaw protected tree that has been injured, removed or destroyed (without prior permit authorization) and work is required to correct the contravention.
Contravention Inspection Fees are collected to recover staffing and resource costs associated with the investigation of contraventions and the effective enforcement of the tree protection bylaws. The fee values are identified in Municipal Code Chapter 441, Fees and Charges, Appendix “E”, Schedule 1. These fees are adjusted annually for inflation. Any Urban Forestry service counter will accept and process a contravention fee payment.
If the Contravention Inspection Fee is not received within 90 days from the date the Order to Comply and associated Cover Letter is issued, Urban Forestry will collect the fee by adding the Contravention Inspection Fee value to the property owner’s tax roll as per Municipal Code Chapters 658-13 and 813-26.
There is no formal process to appeal the Contravention Inspection Fee. If you wish to dispute a fee or you believe a fee has been improperly applied, an email should be sent to Urban Forestry at email@example.com. The staff will provide you with the name of staff assigned to the file. If necessary the complaint may be escalated to the Supervisor and/or Manager as per Urban Forestry’s complaint resolution process.
A tree protection plan is a document prepared by a qualified tree expert in accordance with Urban Forestry’s Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees.
In this plan, the arborist must:
Tree preservation methods may include the erection of hoarding, crown and root pruning, fertilization, aeration, mulching and watering, to name a few.
|Tree Protection Zone (TPZ)**|
|30-40 cm||2.4 m|
|41-50 cm||3.0 m|
|51-60 cm||3.6 m|
|61-70 cm||4.2 m|
|71-80 cm||4.8 m|
|81-90 cm||5.4 m|
|91-100 cm||6.0 m|
|>100 cm||6 cm protection for each 1 cm diameter|
|*DBH = Diameter at Breast Height. See “Tips on How to Measure Diameter” section above.|
|** To be measured from the outside edge of the tree base.|
The minimum protection zones provided in the attached chart apply to trees protected under Private Tree and Street Tree bylaws only. Larger minimum protection zones apply for trees located in the area protected under Ravine and Natural Feature Protection Bylaw. More info about minimum protection zone is available in the City’s Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction near Trees.
Injuring and/or destroying (removing) a protected tree without a permit is considered an offence under Chapter 813, Article IV of the Municipal Code. Urban Forestry staff will inspect and respond to contraventions of Chapter 813 and may issue remedial orders such as Stop Work Orders or Orders to Comply.
A person convicted of an offence under the By-law is liable to:
Reporting a un-authorised tree injury and/or destruction (removal)
If you suspect that someone is cutting down or injuring a tree without a permit, you can report it by:
Urban Forestry will investigate reports of potential Tree By-law contraventions and take appropriate action.
Before issuing a permit to injure and/or remove trees, Urban Forestry will require that the applicant sign a document called Undertaking and Release.
By signing this document, the applicant will confirm that they intend to plant replacement tree(s) and/or implement the approved tree protection plan. Another person must witness the applicant’s signature.
Urban Forestry will issue the permit to injure and/or remove tree(s) after they review and approve all required information and receive a signed, dated and witnessed Undertaking and Release.
Agreement for arborists to perform work on City-owned trees
Urban Forestry must authorize any work on City-owned trees on the City-owned road allowance. A completed Agreement for Arborists to Perform Arboricultural Services on City Owned Street Trees must be in place prior to tree removal or replanting within the City street is conducted by a private property owner.