| Homeowners

In Toronto we’re touchy about our trees!

As anyone who lives in Central and Eastern Canada knows, trees can be a pain in the butt. Yes, a well landscaped yard will increase your curb appeal and will attract more buyers to your home. Mature trees in a yard that’s beautifully landscaped can also increase the value of your house by anywhere from 7 to 19 percent. But in the case of severe wind and/or ice trees can also wreak havoc on power lines and lead to a myriad of problems. If bad weather isn’t the issue, tree roots that invade your sewer or drainage pipes could cause even bigger headaches.

So what are the rules on cutting down trees in Toronto? What can and can’t we cut down and who’s responsible for what? Whether the tree affecting your home is in your front yard or in your own backyard; there’s a bylaw for that!

Front Yard, City Property

The planting, protection, and removal of all trees located on any city street will be under the supervision of the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Nobody can remove or injure any tree on a city street without the prior written approval of the General Manager.

If you’d like a tree removed from your front yard you must submit a written application to the City.  Urban Forestry will then inspect the tree to determine if it’s a candidate for removal. If the tree qualifies for removal due to its poor health or unsafe condition the City will schedule the tree for removal and a new tree will be planted.

If the tree is healthy and doesn’t qualify for removal, you’ll be required to submit an application at a cost of $300 per tree. The next step in the process is a consultation with the Ward Councillor, during which you’ll be advised if your request has been denied or approved with conditions.

Requests for removal of healthy City-owned trees that are refused through this process may be referred to the appropriate Community Council. If City Council approves your request it would under the condition that the homeowner paying for the appraised tree value, removal and replacement costs. You’ll also be required to plant a replacement tree on the City property.

Looking for more insights about being a homeowner in Toronto? Read these posts next:

Private property – tree removal

Trees on private property having a diameter of 30 cm or greater at 1.4 metres above ground level are subject to protection under the City of Toronto Municipal Code. Nobody can injure or destroy these trees without first obtaining a permit from Urban Forestry to do so. A person convicted of an offence under this by-law is liable: To a minimum fine of $500.00 per tree and to a maximum fine of $100,000.00 pertree.

If you want to remove a tree protected under the provisions of the Private Tree Bylaw, you must submit an application and receive a permit to do so. Permit Application fees are non-refundable and will run you $100- $300 per tree. A tree that’s dead 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 trees 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 for more information.

Have you had a problem with a City tree on your property? Do you need any advice? Tell us your stories in the comments below or contact us at 416-291-7372 or hello@christinecowern.com.


  1. Sue MacDonald says:

    Hi. My neighbour, two door down, has a very large black walnut tree that is over 50 feet tall. It’s branches reach over to our home’s back yard. In the summer this tree becomes a hazard to children and adults alike who are in the backyard as they drop 3″ walnuts into our backyards. Our backyard is pretty much useless in the summer between mid July and mid August.

    A bunch of my neighbours, who have the same problem, are wondering if there is anything we can do. Can we ask our neighbours, who have the tree, to take it down? Will the city even give them a permit to do so? Please advise.

    • Christine Cowern says:

      Hi Sue, thanks for reaching out. If the tree in question is a hazard (typically this is due to its branches being precariously close to hydro lines or if the tree is dead/dying) the city will come out and remove it). It’s up to the city to assess whether they’d consider 3” walnuts a hazard so it’s best to call the City of Toronto at #416-338-0338 and check. We hope that this helps!

Comments are closed.