In most cases, yes. In the last decade, the City of Ottawa has made significant efforts to protect trees from being cut needlessly, especially in urban areas. Anyone looking to cut down a tree on an Urban property must obtain a permit from the city. However, the rules differ depending on the situation. The goal of the the by-law is to ensure that trees being cut down in the City’s urban areas are diseased or in a state that risks damage to property or person. Cutting down a tree simply because you don’t like it is no longer in the cards.
Tree Protection (By-law No. 2020-340) is the bylaw that governs tree felling and removal on private property in Ottawa. This bylaw is complex with many regulations, conditions, and prohibitions. Understanding the by-laws is essential to legally and safely remove a tree from your property. Luckily for you, you don’t have to take a deep dive into Ottawa By-Laws. You can trust in our knowledge and expertise as Ottawa’s leading arborist service. Contact Croft Tree Experts today!
Who Must Apply For An Ottawa Tree Removal Permit?
- If the tree you are considering for removal has a diameter of 30 cm (roughly the size of a vinyl record) or more, you must apply for a Tree Removal Permit to proceed with removal
- If you are planning to remove multiple trees, then you will need a separate tree removal permit for each tree.
- You do not need a permit if your property is located on rural land, on a farm, golf course, or cemetery.
- If the tree is on a property larger than one hectare (2.47 acres or 10,000 square metres), you must draft a tree conservation report for approval from the City prior to removal for any tree 10 cm or more in diameter.
Once you determine what paperwork is required for your specific case, you must now account for ownership of the tree. If the trunk of the tree borders on other properties (common in Ottawa’s urban neighbourhoods), all property owners must be in agreement for the tree’s removal. An Arborist Report must be then prepared by a certified and qualified arborist following the guidelines in Schedule C of the Tree Protection By-Law. A Forestry Inspector will then make a site visit and issue a permit if all criteria is met. A granted permit must be posted in a visible location for the public to see seven days prior to removal and seven days after. In all, from your initial application to the removal itself can be up to 22 days or more, so be sure to plan ahead.
When Do I Not Need An Ottawa Distinctive Tree Permit?
- The tree is under 30 centimetres in diameter on a property less than one hectare
- The tree is located within a building, solarium, rooftop garden, or interior courtyard
- The tree is in an actively managed orchard or nursery where harvesting was the purpose of planting
- The tree located on cemetery or golf course
- The tree is threatening public health and safety where immediate removal is encouraged
- The tree is removed as part of normal farming practice and operations by a registered farming business
- The tree is infested with the emerald ash borer
- Pruning to maintain a tree’s health
- Let Croft Tree Experts Assess Your Tree And Provide A Proper Inspection For You!
How Do I Get A Tree Removal Permit?
- Confirm that you are indeed the owner of the tree. If the trunk of the tree is between two or more properties, all property owners must agree to the tree removal.
- Hire an arborist to prepare an Arborist Report. As Ottawa’s leading arborist service, we are happy to provide such an arborist report.
- Fill out the application form and submit it the city of Ottawa
- A non-refundable fee of $100 will be levied on the applicant of the City of Ottawa Tree Removal Permit.
- Upon payment of the $100 fee and acceptance of the arborists report, the Forestry Inspector will arrive at your property to conduct a site visit.
- If and when a permit is granted, it must be posted in a prominent location which is visible to the public for one week (7 days) before the tree is cut and removed.
- After the 7-day period, the tree can be cut and removed from your property.
This entire process can be lengthy, taking up to 3 or 4 weeks. That’s why we recommend you do your best to plan your tree removal well ahead of time. Our team of professional and certified arborists can help you with all of your planning. We are ready to guide you through the process and make your life easier, give us a call today!
What Are The Consequences For Not Obtaining A Permit?
By-law Officers have the power to enter and inspect land to ensure all laws and regulations are being followed properly. If laws have been ignored or there is a contravention of the by-law discovered, a stop-work order will be issued and an the offender will be filed as committing an offence. The fines associated with this generally range anywhere from $500 to $100,000, and special case fines can be over $100,000.
With such hefty fines possible, ensure you are going through the paperwork thoroughly. Be sure to request the services of a trusted and qualified arborist and tree removal service that will not only safely remove your tree but abide by all by-laws, saving you a legal headache.
Croft Tree Experts provide the Ottawa region with quality tree care, removal, and arborist services ensuring your tree removal is done safely and by the book. Contact us to find out how we can service your trees today!
Changes in Tree Removal By-Laws
Just when you think you're starting to understand tree removal by-laws in Ottawa, things are set to change. On January 29th 2020, the Ottawa City Council passed a new consolidated Tree Protection By-Law along with changes in the process. The new by-law is designed to harmonize Ottawa's two existing by-laws (the Urban tree Conservation By-Law, mentioned earlier in this article and the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law). The meat of this new consolidated by-law is to protect trees in Ottawa’s Urban Areas. There are no changes for privately-owned trees in rural areas.
The new by-law was scheduled to be introduced in two phases. Phase 1 was set to come into effect on May 1st, 2020, however the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the effective date. Phase 2 was initially scheduled to come into effect later in 2020, however similar to Phase 1, Phase 2 has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It finally came into effect on January 1st, 2021
Phase 1 Changes:
- Improves tree protection requirements
- Makes official compensation requirements for removal of public and privately-owned trees
- Improves the requirements for the submission of tree information for distinctive tree permits
- Increases application fees (to offset the cost of implementation for the new by-law)
- Includes a new special fine designed to eliminate any potential financial gain by circumventing the by-law.
Phase 2 Changes:
- Decreasing the diameter limit for removing distinctive trees from 50 cm to 30 cm within Ottawa’s Inner urban area (urban land within the greenbelt)
- Creating a permit to work around trees, ensuring better tree protection in development sites.
Since these changes have fully come into effect in Ottawa, they have a big impact on how trees are removed in urban areas. Croft Tree Experts are knowledgeable in Ottawa’s tree by-laws, and are prepared for the changes. Don’t risk a costly fine! If you want a tree removed, make sure you go with Croft Tree Experts, Ottawa’s premiere tree removal experts.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For the purpose of determining whether a tree needs a permit to be cut down, the diameter of the tree is measured at breast height. If the diameter is over 30 cm (about the size of a 12" vinyl record) then it will need a permit. The easiest way is to measure with a ribbon tape measure that can easily wrap around the tree. Don't leave things up to chance by eye-balling it and making a decision. The potential for fines if you don't comply with the Tree Protection By-Law make it worth taking your time. Hiring a certified arborist to inspect the tree is your best course of action.
The City of Ottawa takes the protection of its trees very seriously. They want to preserve as many trees as possible, and be absolutely sure that removal is the best course of action. That is why a tree removal permit is required in the first place, why an arborist report is required to get a permit, and why a forestry inspector needs to conduct their own assessment before the permit application is approved. It is incredibly important to plan ahead and get a certified arborist involved early in the process.
Just because you own the property, and the tree that sits on it, does not mean you don't have to abide by municipal, provincial and federal laws. Cutting down a tree can have an impact on the surrounding community, not to mention an environmental impact as well. These laws are also in place to keep you safe by making sure that if a tree is removed, it is done by a certified professional.
More than likely, yes. Even if the tree is on private property, you'll need to get a tree removal permit from the city of Ottawa if your tree is more than 30 cm in diameter. A general rule of thumb is, if you can hug the tree and get your arms all the way around, you can remove the tree without a permit.
Yes. Even if your tree is more than 30cm in diameter, there are certain exemptions that allow you to remove your tree without a permit from the city of Ottawa. These specific circumstances include:
- Trees on a farm, orchard, or nursery
- Dangerous trees that pose a risk to people or a property
- Trees on a golf course, cemetery, or on specific rural lands
- Private courtyards, rooftop patios, and solariums with trees
Speak with our team of certified arborists to learn all you need to know about getting a tree removal permit in Ottawa.