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Toronto Tree Removal: What You Need to Know

Toronto skyline through city park Photo Scott Webb Pexels

Everything You Need to Know About Permits and Re-Greening Plans in Toronto

Looking to remove a tree on your property in Toronto? We’ll take you through the information you need to know about Toronto tree removal permits and bylaws!

The process for cutting down trees in Toronto is relatively straightforward. If you have questions about your tree care or whether tree removal is necessary, consulting with an arborist can help clarify! If you work with an arborist for a tree removal, they will typically apply for the permit on your behalf and provide the necessary reports to the city.

When Do You Need a Tree Removal Permit in Toronto?

Toronto requires you to have a permit for removing two types of tree. The first is any tree with a diameter larger than 30 cm (10 inches). An arborist can help you measure a tree if there’s a question about size.

You also need a permit for removing a “city tree” of any size. Most front-yard trees are considered city trees, as they grow on the road allowance portion of properties. Typically, the city cares for these trees and handles removals for any dead or diseased trees. If you have a concern about a city tree on your property, you can call 311 to have them investigate the issue.

However, you may have a need for removal of a tree the city hasn’t identified as dead or dangerous, or may want to speed up the process if the city timelines for a removal are far in the future. Toronto typically sets a higher bar for approving removals of street trees than trees on private property. It can be difficult to have your application approved if there isn’t a legitimate concern with the tree.

If your property is on a ravine, there may be additional considerations.

Tree Injury Permits

The other time you’ll need a permit is when you have planned work that may injure or destroy a tree. This includes construction on buildings, driveways, parking pads, pools, decks, retaining walls, and other structures; adding or removing soil in the tree’s vicinity; storing construction materials, vehicles or construction waste; disposing of substances from construction or other activity (i.e. concrete, paint, pool water); exposing tree roots, and some other related scenarios. See the full list on the city website if you’re planning construction.

Toronto Tree Cutting StepTwo Vista arborists in PPE on the ground conducting west end Toronto tree removal

If you’ve identified a tree you’d like to have removed, the first step is to find a reliable arborist. Once you’ve identified someone, they’ll come to your property and examine your tree.

If the tree is ready for removal, the arborist will write an arborist report. This is a required part of the City of Toronto’s application process for a removal permit. They will also provide photos, a replanting plan (more below) and any other required documentation.

The arborist will then submit the application to the appropriate city office (depending on the area of the city your building is in) and pay the application fee.

Once the city approves the permit, typically between 4-6 weeks, the tree removal can be scheduled.

Replanting Plans

In order to keep Toronto green and not create heat deserts, replanting plans are required with tree removals. This means that for every tree that is removed, a new tree must be planted. An arborist will figure out a regreening and landscaping plan for the site. This may involve planting a new tree in the same area, or in a more suitable location if the tree is being removed due to its location.

Arborists will give their recommendations on the best trees for planting in the space. This will depend on size, location, and tree species. If the city is removing a street tree, you can select from a list of species Toronto uses for street tree planting. City arborists will make recommendations depending on the site.

Tree Removal Cost

Tree removal permits in Toronto cost $123.55 for a private tree removal permit, $361.69 for a city tree, and $257.91 for a boundary/neighbour tree. If the permit is related to planned construction, the cost is $361.69 for a private or city tree and $773.77 for a boundary/neighbour tree.

The cost of removing the tree will depend on the size of the tree and the difficulty of the job. If your tree is in a hard-to-access location, like on a hill, in a ravine, or in a small yard with limited and/or narrow access, the removal is likely to cost more. That’s because it’s difficult for arborists to bring equipment close to the tree’s location. Consequently, the removal is likely to take them a longer time. Trees that straddle several properties, especially in backyards, can also be more expensive to remove.

If you’ve hired an arborist for the tree removal, the permit cost is usually built into their quote for the job.

Wood and Stump Removal

If you’re working with an arborist, they will typically remove the wood. If you want to keep some or all of the wood, they can leave it for you. (In the case of diseased or infested trees, an arborist may warn against this!)

Stump removal is normally a different process and not included in the price of tree removal. You’ll have to have your arborist schedule this service separately. Learn more about stump removals in our stump removal guide.

If you’re having a street tree removed by the city, they normally book stump removal for a later date, though this can be several seasons later depending on how busy they are and what time of year your removal was done.

Need assistance from an arborist in Toronto for a tree removal? Contact Vista Tree for your consultation!

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