Trees offer a wide array of benefits such as stormwater reduction, temperature management and improved air quality. As such, trees need to be one of the first things considered in planning a construction project. Whether it’s a demolition, addition, new development or installation of new services to a property, a tree permit may be required if the work will impact a public tree (a tree which the majority of the trunk is on public land within the municipality).
Municipality’s Tree Protection by-law
By-law T-600 should be reviewed to understand and confirm if your project will impact a public tree. As outlined in the by-law, any activity that could directly impact a public tree, whether this activity occurs on public or private property, requires a permit or written consent from the municipality
Roots may cross property lines
Remember that trees on municipal property and neighbouring properties may have roots that extend into your property. Damaging roots could result in an unsafe tree or could set the tree on a path of decline.
Tree roots run close to the surface
Most tree roots are within 0.5 m of the soil surface and any activity such as driving over or excavation into the soil can cause damage or even kill trees.
Determine your tree protection zone
Determine the location of the trees adjacent to your property. In the municipality, the Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) is a distance of 0.5 m for every 45 mm in diameter at the chest height of the trunk. It is within this zone that activities must be restricted to ensure tree survival.
Prioritize tree protection as much as possible
Try to prioritize the protection of the trees when planning a project. Consider the footprint of the project, the footprint of the construction activities, all excavation and the location of future site services (water, gas and power) as well as the planned future access points across municipal roads and streets.
Work with an arborist
It is recommended to work with an arborist to determine required mitigation measures for work near trees so they are better protected. For trees on municipal property, a municipal arborist may provide additional direction.
Injured trees may not immediately show symptoms
Trees injured during construction may not show immediate signs of damage or decline. In some cases, damage from construction can lead to tree decline over several years. Simply driving over tree roots with heavy equipment can cause serious damage to a tree’s roots that may not be immediately evident.
Protecting trees throughout a demolition or construction process is extremely important for many reasons. In protecting trees on municipal land, the municipality ensures the valuable tree canopy and all the benefits that go along with it, are retained. The slightest damage to a tree's roots, bark or canopy can often result in fatality or structural failure.
To help ensure tree health and urban canopy stability, please carefully review the documents below to ensure all tree protection on your construction site is to specification.
Removal of a municipally owned tree is the last resort and considered only after all attempts to protect the tree have been exhausted.
Tree removal permit
A tree removal permit will only be issued after consultation with the municipality’s Urban Forestry division, including receipt of a tree protection plan. See the Tree Protection brochure for details. Any removals require a justification, approved by a municipal arborist, indicating why a tree must be removed to permit as-of-right development, or permit an approved access across the boulevard.
A permit will only be granted after a compensation plan has been received and approved by the municipality’s Urban Forestry division and the municipal engineer. Compensation typically includes, at a minimum, the replacement of one tree for every tree removed, planted to municipal standards (see chapter five). The replacement trees must be adjacent to the project and be located on municipal land.
As a replacement tree is not equal to the value of a mature tree, this compensation plan will also include a monetary amount representative of the value of the mature trees to be removed. These funds will be used by the municipality to fund tree planting activities elsewhere in the community.