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Trees near the construction site

March 15th, 2007

Growing out of the front of the foundation of our house, at an angle of 45 degrees, is a tree. We always knew that tree could not be saved when the new house was built, but we have plans to plant a new tree further to the front of the property when the house is completed.

But it turns out, you can’t just take down a tree if it’s in the way. Any tree with a diameter of more than 30cm (measured 1.4m from the ground) is protected by Toronto’s Urban Forestry Service whether it is on public or private property. In our case this tree is just shy of 30cm, but if it weren’t we would have to apply to the city for a review (at a cost of $200) to decide whether it can be removed.

As with property demolition, there is a 14-day public notice period where the public can object to the removal of a tree. In some cases that can be followed up by a 90-day review period while city council decides the matter (but my impression is this doesn’t apply to most situations).

There is a second tree that is next door to us and it’s close enough that the city has asked for a formal Arborist’s report to determine what impact construction will have on it. There are many things that may need to be done, including erecting a fence around it for protection (though in our case there is a fence between the properties and the canopy is so high as to be pointless).

The city of Toronto requires that the Arborist who prepares the report be certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) or registered with the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).

We’re hoping to have the report back from the Arborist as soon as possible so it does not interfere with our permit application. If you have any trees within 6m of your construction site, you would be well advised to find out if they will be at risk and start planning around them early.

Posted by Colin