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Care and maintenance

To meet the growing public demands for transparency and to answer the internal needs for improved business processes and availability of operational information and reporting, the City of Ottawa has invested into a new system and technology enabling staff to better answer the resident. Major investments in the City’s enterprise systems and data management by going paperless will allow staff to handle residents’ requests more efficiently. When a resident call 3-1-1 to request, for example, a City tree to be pruned, they want to know that their request doesn’t get lost. By enhancing the system and providing mobile equipment, the resident can follow their request easily, the work flow efficiently from the first step to the next. Below is a quick snapshot of the process to respond to a tree pruning request.


You can see here the call being received by 311 and the 311 Agent uses the Lagan system to create a call for Forestry Services related to Tree Maintenance. Scripting has been created to capture the needed information for the resident to receive the service in a timely manner. The 311 Agent has at their finger tips answers to residents questions using knowledge base information that can be continually built upon. The unique reference number provided can now be used by the resident and staff to see what the status of the call is and review it in the future if the resident calls back.

That request now flows electronically to the Forestry Inspector, who is working in their vehicle and is using the SAP portal to plan and schedule their own work for site visits and is completing the request with the resident by setting up the work to be scheduled and implemented by Field staff.

What you can see in this first part is how a forestry inspector can now schedule and map their route for the day. Once on site, the forestry inspector verifies the work being requested, inspects the tree condition, notes it size, location and any other information needed by the crew when they show up. All information is built upon what the 311 Centre has provided and flows along electronically to the appropriate person or crew to have the work done. The tree information collected by the Forestry Inspect or is now in the City’s inventory, notification is finalized, work order is created and sent off to be planned and scheduled by staff back at the office based on the service level for the tree and priority determined by the forestry inspector. Before leaving the site, the forestry inspector either notifies the homeowner in person or leaves a door hanger telling them we visited the site and informs them on the work that is scheduled and approximately when they should see the crew. Other means of contact are also used such as a telephone call, fax or email depending on what the resident would like to receive or has told the 311 agent.

Planning and scheduling is now done with all the work flowing in to ensure that we are achieving the service level, efficient deployment and quality of work. Reporting at various levels is now available from the Supervisor to the Manager on various key indicators and activities we do. These two staff member are working in SAP, and not in the more than 10 databases we had prior to this project for everything from tree removal to tree replacement.

At this point just like before we still show up and prune the tree, but what you can see here is the crew now has an electronic timesheet that tells them exactly what needs to be done, and if they need more information they can search that as well, right in the truck on site. The crew prunes the tree as prescribed, cleans up the site and when they are done enter the time it took which drives their pay, vehicle and equipment costs and history on what was performed for future reference and reporting. If there is an issue they cannot resolve, they have the ability to redirect the work item to the appropriate person for resolution. This is all done in real time at one point of entry, no more paper timesheet, lost papers and back office filing of all those documents. Once the work is done the resident gets a notification back telling them the work has been completed, and the tree is healthier, the street, and street light, driveway and house are all cleared from the branches and the resident is satisfied. Ideally we won’t need to come back to this tree for up to 7 years.

Tree pruning

The City owns over 330,000 street and park trees and works hard to keep them healthy.

Why does the City prune trees?

  • to promote good health
  • insects and disease control  
  • remove potential safety hazards
  • for vehicle and pedestrian clearances
  • to reduce storm damage from high winds, snow, and freezing rain
  • for streetlights, buildings, and utilities

When and how are trees pruned?

The City prunes trees routinely according to species, age and, in some cases, location and uses different types of pruning:

  • Crown cleaning is the removal of dead, dying, diseased, crowded, weakly attached and low-vigour branches from the crown of a tree.
  • Crown thinning is the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown. Thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, reduces water intake, and helps retain the tree's natural shape.
  • Crown raising removes the lower branches from a tree in order to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians and sight lines
  • Crown reduction reduces the size of a tree, to make room for utility lines.Reducing the height or spread of a tree is best accomplished by pruning back the leaders and branch terminals to lateral branches that are large enough to assume the terminal roles. This method maintains the form and structural integrity of the tree.
  • Crown restoration removes damaged limbs to restore an appropriate stable form to the tree. This is often necessary following storm damage.

Why does the tree look so different after pruning?

After being pruned, a tree might look rather bare. It will begin to look normal during the next growing season, with a healthier and more attractive form and structure.

Will the City prune my trees?

The City will only prune trees on City property, such as the City owned portion of the roadway, in front and at the side of residential lots and City parks.

How you can help:

  • Water the tree during dry spells (see Watering Your Tree)
  • Monitor the tree's condition and reporting to the City any disease, damage or infestations
  • Limit construction near the roots of the tree – at least 10 centimetres away from the trunk for every centimetre of trunk diameter. (see the City of Ottawa's Tree Protection Guidelines)
  • Many herbicides or weed killers that are used on grass can cause severe damage to trees when misapplied. This can occur on windy days, causing the drift to fall on non-target plants, or on hot days when the herbicide may vaporize and diffuse into the air. While most herbicides do not kill tree roots, some chemicals, such as soil sterilants, will have a detrimental effect on growth. Herbicides that can cause tree damage should have statements on their labels warning against using the product near trees.
  • Keep in mind, the property values of landscaped homes are 5-20 per cent higher than those without plants.

Should you require additional information on tree pruning, please call 3-1-1.

Request brush or wood pickup after City tree maintenance activity

IMPORTANT: To report an immediate hazard to people or property, call 3-1-1. 

After clearing, pruning and other tree maintenance activities, City staff pile branches and wood for pickup. Nearby residents are advised that this pickup will occur within 2?3 business days.

If the city hasn’t picked up trimmings 3 business days after they completed their work:

Submit a request for brush or wood pickup