The City owns more than 300,000 trees and accidents involving falling trees or branches sometimes happen, particularly in high winds. Unless the City had some advance warning that one of its trees posed a hazard, such as a rotting limb or a cracked trunk, and it did not take appropriate steps to deal with the hazard, the City will not usually be legally responsible or liable for any damage. For example, if someone submits a claim because their car was damaged when a City tree branch fell on their car, the City would only be liable and pay compensation if the City was negligent in how it maintained the tree.
The mere fact that a City tree caused damage does not warrant automatic compensation from the City. Furthermore, if the tree is not found on municipal property, the City will not be found liable.
For more information on filing a claim against the City, please see Claims to the City.
Trees near foundations
Trees are often considered to be the cause of damage to building foundations, but trees are not always the source of the problem.
Damage is often a result of the behaviour of the soils under the foundation. Uneven soil shrinkage can lead to uneven settlement and foundation damage. In the Ottawa area, shrinkage of sensitive marine clay is a major contributor to building foundation damage.
The City of Ottawa is committed to protecting its natural environment and resource base. In an effort to preserve mature trees, the City has instituted a formal 4-phase assessment process to investigate the circumstances related to mature municipal trees that are suspected of contributing to foundation damage.
For program information call 3-1-1.