The Tree Protection By-law takes effect on January 1, 2021. This consolidated by-law replaces the Urban Tree Conservation By-law and the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law, which will be repealed at that time.
Under the Tree Protection By-law, the following protected trees cannot be injured or removed without a tree permit from the City:
- All City-owned trees throughout the urban and rural area
- All trees 10 cm or more in diameter at breast height on private properties within the urban area that are subject to a Planning Act application for Site Plan, Plan of Subdivision, or Plan of Condominium
- All trees 10 cm or more in diameter at breast height on private properties within the urban area that are over 1 hectare in size
- All distinctive trees on private properties 1 hectare or less in size, where distinctive trees are defined as:
- Trees measuring 30 cm or more in diameter at breast height within the inner urban area (urban lands inside the Greenbelt)
- Trees measuring 50 cm or more in diameter at breast height within the suburban area (urban lands outside the Greenbelt)
The protections on privately owned trees also apply to identified urban expansion or growth areas shown on schedules in the by-law. The areas covered by the various parts of the by-law can also be viewed on geoOttawa under the Forestry heading.
The by-law also provides protection to all City-owned natural areas by regulating activities that might cause negative impacts. Refer to Part III of the by-law for more information.
Not sure whether the by-law applies to you? The City has developed a new Decision Tree tool to assist residents and staff in determining what kind of permit, if any, is needed to remove a tree. For an overview of the process, refer to this flowchart.
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.
Private Ash trees that are infested with the emerald ash borer can be removed without a permit. All ash trees removed must be disposed of within the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Regulated Areas.
The by-law also provides exemptions for certain types of activities, such as normal farm practices, maintenance of power lines, aggregate extraction in accordance with provincial regulations, and professional surveying.
The Tree Protection By-law was developed in response to community feedback and recommendations made in the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan. It is an essential part of the City’s integrated approach to retain, replace and renew our urban forest canopy.
The by-law includes several new or improved provisions including:
- Reduced size threshold for distinctive trees in the inner urban area with the goal of protecting more trees that will make up the urban forest of the future
- Detailed tree protection requirements to ensure that trees are adequately protected against damage or destruction
- Clear compensation requirements for both City-owned and private tree removals
- Improved tree information requirements for distinctive tree permits
- Special fines that can be imposed in addition to regular fines, in situations where there could be financial gain from the illegal tree removal.