How Getting a Permit to Remove a Tree Works
If you want to remove a tree from your property, it isn’t as simple as hiring services for tree removal in Toronto. The Tree Protection By-law protects significant trees on both private property and city streets. In order to carry out any activity that would result in the injury or removal of a protected tree — whether it’s for a construction, altering soil grade, cutting or nailing into the tree, or installing lights or cables — you need a permit.
It’s always best to prepare before applying for any documents, and a permit to remove a tree is no exception. However, knowing the steps involved with an application can make the application process easier.
Here are the steps to take to secure your permit:
Prepare the Application Package
When applying for the permit, you also need to include other documents to finish the application. Incomplete applications will not be processed; remember to attach all the relevant documents to avoid any delays. There are two types of permits: application to destroy or application to injure. Whichever one you need, some of the documents needed include:
- Completed application form (which can be found at the city of Toronto’s website)
- Application fee (which can be a certified cheque or a money order)
- Arborist report
- Site plan
Submit the Package
When finished, take the completed form, related documents, and application fee to the appropriate Urban Forestry Tree Protection and Plan Review Office. Take note that submission of an application is not a guarantee that a permit will be issued.
After submission, Urban Forestry will review the application to ensure that everything is complete. In case of any missing items, Urban Forestry staff will notify applicants in writing. Once the package is complete, staff will also carry out a site visit to verify the application details and determine if a permit may be issued. If necessary, they will also inform you if a public notification process is required. If necessary, the Private Tree By-law can require that a public “Notice of Application” to destroy a healthy tree be posted on the subject property for no less than two weeks.
Landscaping/Replanting Plan Approval
If Urban Forestry must post the application, the landscaping or replanting plan must also be approved by your ward councillor. At this stage, any comments collected during the posting will be provided to the councillor. In case Urban Forestry denies the application, you can appeal to the City Council via the Community Council. In that case, councillors are provided with comments on request.
Conditions of Permit Approval
Urban Forestry may approve the removal of a tree protected by the Private Tree By-law under these conditions:
- Implementation of the approved tree protection plan to their satisfaction
- Implementation of the approved landscape or replanting plant to their satisfaction
Similarly, the Trees on City Streets By-law protects street trees of any size. Urban Forestry may approve a request to remove a street tree under these conditions:
- Payment of the appraised tree value, and removal and replacement costs (if the tree is being removed)
- Submission of a Tree Protection Guarantee deposit or letter of credit to guarantee the tree will continue to be protected as per approved
- Submission of a security deposit to ensure planting of a replacement tree
There are some exemptions when cutting down private trees. In those cases, the tree should be dead, diseased, or hazardous, which would require that the tree be removed to keep the surroundings safe. To remove that tree, applicants must send a comprehensive report from an arborist and get approval from Urban Forestry before beginning any work.
Applying for a permit may sound difficult, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Use this page as a guide, and consult your tree removal service. Professionals know the ins and outs of the system, and can guide you appropriately.