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Tree Bylaw and Permits

The Tree Bylaw in Kingston lays out when you need a tree permit before removing or injuring trees. It also outlines where there are removal restrictions on tree removal in designated woodlands and environmental protection areas.  

The bylaw does not restrict removals as part of normal farm practices and provides additional information on compensation and legal agreements. Residential property owners should ensure that the tree they want to remove is not within the municipal right-of-way or protected under a Tree Preservation and Protection Plan.  

Tree permit application 

Tree permits may require planting replacement trees. While removal may be necessary due to natural causes, our goal is to maintain, if not increase, the amount of tree coverage throughout the city. 

If you are applying for a tree permit, you must: 

    • Complete the tree permit application on Development and Services Hub (DASH)
    • Pay the tree permit fee
    • Submit an arborist’s report (If applicable) 

A tree permit is required under these circumstances: 

    • Trees has a diameter at breast height of 15 cm or more. Diameter at breast height is measured 1.37 metres above the ground. 
    • Tree is located on municipal property, including roads and parks. 
    • Tree is located in an Environmental Protection Areas or Open Space designated in the official plan. 
    • Tree is protected by a Tree Preservation and Protection Plan. 
    • Trees that are subject to commercial harvesting on lands larger than one hectare. 
    • Trees that are listed as endangered, threatened, or at risk under provincial or federal legislation. 
    • Distinctive tree species listed in the first section of the Tree Bylaw, such as Black Maple, Black Walnut, Blue Ash, etc. 

The Tree Bylaw applies to new developments requiring planning approvals. If tree removal is needed before receiving planning approvals, a separate tree permit is necessary. 

For commercial harvesting on properties larger than one hectare, a tree permit is required, unless a forest management plan prepared by a registered professional forester is accepted by the Director of Planning Services. 

To obtain an arborist report, you must hire a qualified forestry consultant. The report should be prepared by a certified arborist, a certified tree marker, or a registered professional forester. These individuals must have the necessary certifications and memberships.  

The report must adhere to the Guidelines for the Completion of an Arborist's Report.

You can appeal to City Council under these two situations: 

    1. Within 30 days after we refuse to issue a tree permit. 
    2. Within 30 days after the issuance of the tree permit, you can appeal to City Council.

Permit exceptions

In certain situations, obtaining a tree permit is not necessary. 

You can prune a tree without a tree permit as long as it does not harm the tree. To learn proper pruning techniques, contact a Certified Arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.  

For tree removal, a tree permit is not needed if the tree is dead, severely damaged, diseased, or poses a danger. However, you must provide proof from a Certified Arborist to the Director of Planning Services for approval. You can find more information on pruning and tree services on the International Society of Arboriculture’s website Trees Are Good.

Residential properties are exempt from the Tree Bylaw, so you do not need a tree permit to remove a tree. Just make sure the tree is on your private property. If the tree is within a road right-of-way, it is considered a municipal tree and we are responsible for its maintenance and removal.  

Removing a municipal tree without permission is against the Tree Bylaw. If a tree crosses property lines or its branches overhang onto neighbouring properties, it is a civil issue between neighbours, not covered by the Tree Bylaw. 

If you are constructing a building without planning approvals, you do not need a tree permit if you have a building permit and the trees you remove are within 15 meters of the construction site.  

You also do not need a tree permit for installing a driver or public or private utilities. 

  • If you are cutting trees for personal use, clearing land for normal farm practice or operating a cemetery, golf course, pit or quarry, you do not need a tree permit.  
  • Utility providers, surveyors and government entities are also exempt. 

However, it is best to confirm with our staff before removing any trees. You can contact the Planning Services at 613-546-4291, ext. 3180 to determine if a permit is required. 

Tree bylaw violation penalties 

If you break the Tree Bylaw, the conditions of a tree permit, or an order, you may face the following penalties: 

    • Prohibition from continuing or repeating the offence. 
    • Land rehabilitation, including tree planting or replanting. 
    • A compensation to the City (as outlined in Section 10 of the Tree Bylaw) 
    • A fine: 
        • For individuals: You might pay $10,000 or $1,000 per tree (whichever is greater) for a first offence, and $25,000 or $2,500 per tree (whichever is greater) for subsequent offences. 
        • For corporations: $50,000 or $5,000 per tree (whichever is greater) for a first offence, and $100,000 or $10,000 per tree (whichever is greater) for subsequent offences

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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