A tree damaged in a storm will need to be assessed for damage to determine if it can be maintained or should be removed. It is the responsibility of the property owner to hire an arborist to complete the assessment.

Where tree damage is significant and the tree cannot be maintained in a safe condition, you will have to arrange for removal of the tree. All private trees in the city with a diameter of 30 cm or more protected under the private tree by-law and trees of all sizes in a ravine area protected by the Ravine and Natural Feature Protection by-law may require a permit under one of these bylaws if the tree is not an imminent hazard.

The City will not inspect private trees damaged by a storm. Maintenance of privately owned trees is the responsibility of the property owner. You should seek an arborist to assess the condition of your tree.

The City does not perform maintenance work nor provide funding for tree maintenance on private property.

Imminent Hazard

Private trees deemed an imminent hazard by an arborist are the responsibility of the property owner.

A permit is not required to remove an imminently hazardous tree even if it is protected under a tree protection by-law. In the case of an imminent hazard, Urban Forestry requests that arborists and property owners take photos of hazardous trees and advise Urban Forestry by calling 311 after the fact. This will help create a record of tree loss and allow Urban Forestry to respond to any possible complaints that healthy trees were improperly removed.

If you feel that a tree, or part of a tree, situated on a neighbouring property is at risk of falling you should stay away from the area and immediately advise the property owner so that they may address the situation.

Property Damage

Property owners should contact their private home and/or car insurance company to assess the damage to their property following a storm. A tree on your property damaging your neighbour’s property or a neighbour’s tree causing damage to your property is a civil issue between private property owners. You need to discuss any damages directly with your neighbour. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour and want to determine your legal rights, contact a lawyer.

Remember that you cannot trespass onto your neighbour’s property. However, you have the right to maintain your property in a safe condition.

Collection of Debris

The City will collect branches from your yard via waste collection if they are tied into bundles and left on the curb. Note, this applies to private trees only, Urban Forestry will pick up waste and branches for a City tree if they worked on it.

  • Brush and branch bundles: maximum of 1.2 m (4 ft) long by 0.5 m (2 ft) wide. And less than 20 kg (44 lbs) will be picked up at the curb.
  • Item bigger that 7.5 cm (3″) in diameter: arrangements must be made with a private company
  • Residents affected by the Asian Long-Horned Beetle infestation: for wood that exceeds the maximum size accepted at the curb call 31 for proper disposal instructions.

More information about yard waste pickup.

Prevention and Safety

The best prevention is to maintain your trees regularly. Have your trees inspected for dead branches and structural weaknesses. A good practice may be to take precaution measures when storms are expected such as parking your vehicles in a garage or away from trees. Check the severe weather page for more information.

Utility companies should be contacted for a tree that is hanging over telephone or electrical wires.

Toronto Hydro is responsible for maintaining trees near electrical wires. Call: 416-542-8000 between 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

If the tree is in your front or back yard on your private property and is:

  • interfering with Bell telephone lines: contact Bell Canada if service is interrupted. If service is not interrupted contact a certified arborist.
  • interfering with cable lines, call the Rogers Customer Service line.
  • interfering with electrical service lines (electrical  lines running to the house), contact a certified arborist.

The City of Toronto will clear phone and cable lines while performing regular maintenance on City trees.

A City tree that is an imminent hazard should be reported to 311. Provide detailed description. Urban Forestry service standards for inspecting imminent hazards is a maximum of 3 days. In the event of a severe storm, Urban Forestry may have to adjust response times.

Should a City tree fall on your property and cause damage

  • Call 311. Do not submit an online request if the storm damage response is urgent.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and provide details. You will be provided with a service request (SR) number for reference.
  • Take photographs.

311 will then determine the level of priority and create a work order. An Urban Forestry inspector will investigate accordingly.

If the tree/limb failure occurred as a result of a storm, the City is not responsible for your property damage. Contact your insurance company for compensation. You may be compensated by the City only if the City is deemed to be negligent in maintaining the tree. See Fallen Trees and Branch Damage claims for more details.

In the interest of preserving as much of our tree canopy as possible, each City tree damaged by a storm will be inspected and where possible, the trees will be maintained and preserved. The City will remove a tree when it is determined that damage is severe and it is no longer viable to maintain the tree.

Urban Forestry will replace every City tree that has been removed. Trees that have died, are structurally compromised or can no longer be maintained in good condition will be removed. As soon as a tree is removed, a procedure is in place to plant a new tree.

Clean up and Removal of Debris

Cleanup will take 3 days to 6 months depending on the severity of the situation. For example, if there are many small branches on the street then the city will not remove them. However, if a City tree falls and a branch is too large to move by hand, then Urban Forestry will remove the fallen tree.

If you wish to do any work on City trees, you need to apply for a permission and enter into an agreement with the City to indemnify the City from any liability that may result from your or your contractor’s activities. The permission will allow you to do the work at your cost. You will not be reimbursed by the City, and the City will not be responsible for any injury that may result from removing fallen trees on private property.

The City does not reimburse you for your transit in the event your car cannot get out of the driveway because a fallen tree is blocking it following a storm