Trees and urban forests

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Severe weather event recovery

Due to the recent weather events of May 21, Forestry Services is experiencing higher than normal call volumes. Forestry Services’ staff are focusing on highly impacted areas and priority work. Please expect some delays in responding to your request, but rest assure that it we will be there as soon as possible. Thank you.

Tree Removal Permit

Property owners do not need a permit to remove dead or hazardous trees on their private property where the tree is an immediate threat to public health and safety. Photos should be taken prior to removal of dead or hazardous trees in such cases to provide evidence of the condition of the tree and the reason for exemption. Note that a permit is not required to prune private trees however, pruning should be done in accordance with good arboricultural practices.

It is understood that some trees were damaged to the point that they will not survive. At this time, a tree removal permit is not required to remove these damaged trees. Again, please document by taking pictures prior to the removal to illustrate the condition of the tree should there be an inquiry in the future. The City's tree by-law can provide further information.

Tree Stumping Operations

City staff are working on a plan to remove and grind stump from City property. Please be patient! There is a lot of work ahead of us.

Tree Planting

Due to the storm event, spring planting has been cancelled. The spring tree planting season generally occurs between May 1 and June 30. Scheduled spring plantings that did not take place before Saturday May 21, 2022 are now prioritized for the fall to allow forestry staff to focus on the clean-up.

Cancelled – Spring Community Plantings

Three of six community tree planting events scheduled for the spring have been cancelled. Some of the sites were impacted by the storm and the forestry resources assigned to those plantings are required for clean-up efforts.

Postponed – Trees in Trust, Commemorative Trees, Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program, and Park and Streetscape Plantings

Unless planting took place before Saturday May 21, 2022, scheduled spring planting as part of the Commemorative Tree Program, Schoolyard Tree Plantings and Park and Streetscape Planting is now prioritized for fall 2022.

Extended – Deadline for Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program

We will be extending the application deadline for the Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program to October 1 (normal deadline is June 1) for project implementation in spring 2023.

Continuing –Tree Replacement Through Trees in Trust Program

Residents may apply online to have City-owned trees in front of their homes replaced through the Trees in Trust Program. The Trees in Trust Program plants City-owned trees on the right of way in front of residents' homes. We have seen many of these trees impacted by the severe storm. Residents may proactively request a replacement tree by completing an online form.

Starting – Tree Replacement in Parks

Parks Maintenance and Forestry Services staff are taking note of significantly damaged trees in parks and building a list to assess for replanting. Staff will implement those replacement projects in 2023 and beyond.

For other City programs, please visit the City's Tree planting site.

How to hire an arborist

An arborist is an expert in the care and maintenance of trees and includes an arborist qualified by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, a consulting arborist registered with the American Society of Consulting Arborists, a Registered Professional Forester or a person with other similar qualifications.

Make sure the arborist is insured and bonded, and feel free to ask for proof of insurance. Most arborists carry personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance.

Brush operations

Public Works crews are working to remove large trees and pieces of wood on roads and in parks that are hazardous, or are damaging homes and vehicles, blocking roads, or leaning on residential properties.

Large trees, trunks, stumps and root systems that residents have cut down may be placed curbside if possible. While these will not be collected as part of the regular waste collection, the City will pick them up. This collection will take several weeks.

Trees and property damage

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.