If you live in Toronto, and you want to remove a tree from your property, you just call a tree removal company or cut it down yourself right? Wrong. Tree removal in Toronto isn’t as simple as that.

If you’re thinking about cutting down a tree, here’s everything you need to know about the intricacies of tree removal in Toronto:

How big is the tree?

If the tree you want to remove has a diameter more than 30 cms (or 12 inches), then you need permission from the city, regardless of whether it’s on your private property or not. If it’s any smaller than that, then it’s ok to remove without anyone’s permission. That measurement also has to be taken at about chest height, so you can’t just measure the smallest part of the tree and get away with it.

What state is the tree in?

If you want to remove a tree that is dead or imminently hazardous, like if it’s ready to fall and possibly injure someone, then you don’t need to get a permit. But that call isn’t up to you. You’ll need to file an application with the city’s urban forestry department so they can confirm that the tree should be removed. You can access the application right here.

You’ll probably have to pay some fees.

If you have permission to remove a tree, then the permit fees start at $104 for non-construction related tree removals, and $313 for construction related jobs; and they go up from there. If you fit in the low income demographic, then you might be able to get the fee waived completley. Keep in mind though that the city says that permits are usually issued within 6 weeks of being filed.

Do you really need to remove it?

There are lots of reasons why someone would want to remove a tree, but the best reason is because the tree is dead, or there’s a risk it could fall onto yours or a neighbour’s house, or both. But, if you’re thinking of removing a tree for aesthetic purposes, you want to really make sure you think about what it’s actually going to look like with the tree removed. That’s because…

Toronto’s trees are beautiful!

While tree removal might seem like a big hassle, it’s actually one of the great things about Toronto. Despite living in a large urban city, Toronto’s tree canopy is truly fantastic! Having trees, and the rules in place to protect them, helps keep Toronto a beautiful urban forest.

What if you do it anyway?

At the end of the day, if you remove a tree, someone might not ever find out, or question as to whether you got a permit or not, but it’s not really worth the risk. City fines for unlawful tree removal start at $500 and go up to as much as $100,000.

Do you have your own experience with tree removal in Toronto? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. I’m really grateful for the estimate of how much permits cost to remove a tree. The one in my front yard might be dead. It’s really stress relieving when there is no unexpected cost that you’re unprepared for.

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