Trees Bylaws in the City

Trees are an important part of city life. Especially in a concrete jungle like Toronto, trees bring a breath of fresh air to the city. What some people might not know is that trees have a certain level of protection and laws protecting them. Here are some things to know regarding trees, based on where they are located.

 Private Property

If a tree has a diameter of 30cm (12”) or more and is located on private property, a permit is required to remove, cut down or in any other way injure a tree. The measurement of the diameter must be taken at 1.4 m (4.5 feet) above ground level. This rule applies to trees on all land use types including, single family residential properties.

There are exceptions to this rule that means you would not require a permit to destroy or remove a tree from private property. Some of these exceptions include:

  • If a tree is dead, diseased or considered a hazard. In this case however, to get it removed or have any work done on it, the applicant must send a detailed Arborist report and receive approval from Urban Forestry before proceeding.
  • If a tree is on a rooftop garden with a soil depth of less than 1.5 metres above a built substructure. In this case, you do not need a permit to injure or destroy the tree
  • If a tree is interfering with utility conductors. In this case, you can prune tree branches

In each of the above cases, although you can alter the trees natural appearance, you cannot do so without submitting a form for an arborist report.

Trees on private property are protected under Municipal Code, Chapter 813, Article III. For more information on trees on private property, please view this link.

City Streets

All trees that are located on city streets, including highways, streets, laneways and other city owned property, are protected under Municipal Code, Chapter 813, Article II. Under this bylaw, it states that no one is allowed to attach anything to a city trees without prior written approval. This bylaw also protects the trees roots, and from any marks, cuts, peeling or in any other way defacing any part of the tree.

Similar to private property trees, if anyone wishes to injure or remove the tree, they will have to complete a form, with purpose of permit, and arborist report. The person submitting the report may be subject to pay for the charge of removal of the tree, and minimum of one replacement tree to be planted for each tree removed.

Trees on Ravine land or protected areas under Conservation Authority

Conservation Authorities were created to protect and enhance the health and well-being of watershed communities. Your property line may, border a conservation authority. If it does, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If there is a tree on a TRCA that hangs over onto your property, you can cut it back but only until your property line
  • If you have permission to get the tree cut back, you must get an arborist to do it
  • You cannot use pesticides on any area of your property line that borders a TRCA
  • You can remove weeds on a TRCA that borders your property but you must get permission to do so
  • TRCA will never remove healthy trees
  • If there is a dying tree or it is a hazard, TRCA will cut it down and leave it to decompose. They will not remove it from the site.

Check if your property or a property you’re interested in is near a TRCA Conceptual Regulated Area.

Information in this blog was sourced from and websites.

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