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When is a tree permit required to remove a tree?

A tree permit is required for the removal of the following trees:

  • Trees that are 15 cm, or greater, in diameter at breast height (DBH), with DBH being defined as a point 1.37 metres above the ground;
  • Trees that are located on Municipal Property, including road rights-of-way, and parks;
  • Trees that are located in areas designated as Environmental Protection Areas (EPA) or Open Space in a municipal official plan;
  • Trees that have been identified for protection in a Tree Preservation and Protection Plan;
  • Trees that are subject to commercial harvesting on lands greater than one (1) hectare in area;
  • Trees that are listed as endangered, threatened, or at risk tree species in the provincial Endangered Species Act;
  • Trees that are listed as endangered or threatened tree species, or a tree species of special concern, in the federal Species at Risk Act; and,
  • Trees that are considered distinctive trees, as defined in Section 1 of the Bylaw, including the following species :
    • Black Maple
    • Black Walnut
    • Blue Ash
    • Douglas-Fir
    • Ginkgo
    • Kentucky Coffeetree
    • London Planetree
    • Ohio Buckeye
    • Pitch Pine
    • Sycamore
    • Tulip-tree

Also, the following sub-sections describe who and what the Tree Bylaw applies to, and when a Tree Permit is required in order to remove a tree.

New Development - Planning Approvals Required

New development that requires Planning Approvals (e.g. Plan of Subdivision, Plan of Condominium, Site Plan Control, or Severance) is required to address the issue of tree removal and replacement as part of their Planning Application(s). If tree removal is to occur before Planning Approvals have been received, a separate Tree Permit is required.

Commercial Harvesting

A Tree Permit is required for the harvesting of trees on property that is greater than one hectare in area, unless a Forest Management Plan has been prepared by a Registered Professional Forester and submitted to and accepted by the Director of Planning & Development. 

Are there any exemptions to the tree permit process?

The following sub-sections describe who and what is exempt from the Tree Bylaw, and when a Tree Permit is not required in order to remove a tree.

  • Pruning and Other Tree Maintenance

A Tree Permit is not required in order to prune a tree, as long as the pruning is done in a manner that does not harm the tree. Individuals that are uncertain as to how to properly prune a tree without harming it should contact a Certified Arborist (certified by the International Society of Arboriculture - ISA) by referring to the yellow pages of the telephone book under "Tree Service". The ISA also offers information about pruning on their website at www.treesaregood.com

Also, a Tree Permit is not required in order to remove trees that are dead, severely damaged or diseased, or that pose a danger to people or buildings. However, a letter of proof from a Certified Arborist must be submitted to the Director of Planning & Development for approval before a tree can be removed for health or hazard reasons.

  • Residential Properties

The Tree Bylaw does not apply to residential properties, and a Tree Permit is not required in order to remove a tree. However, please ensure that the subject tree is located entirely on private property. Trees located within road rights-of-way are Municipal Trees; all maintenance and/or removal of such trees are the responsibility of the City of Kingston. The removal of a Municipal Tree is a chargeable offense under the Tree Bylaw.

Trees that cross property lines, and the pruning of branches that overhang onto neighbouring properties, are civil issues between neighbours and are not addressed by the Tree Bylaw.

  • New Development - Planning Approvals NOT Required

New construction of buildings that do not require Planning Approvals also do not require a Tree Permit, as long as a Building Permit has been obtained, and as long as the trees that are removed are no more than 15 metres from the location of the proposed building.

A Tree Permit is also not required for the installation of a driveway, or public or private utilities.

  • Other Exemptions

The following are other exemptions to the Tree Bylaw where a Tree Permit is not required:

  • Trees cut for personal use (does not include wood that is sold or given away);
  • Trees removed in order to clear land as part of a Normal Farm Practice, as long as it is outside Environmental Protection Areas, and outside of the area identified on Schedule 'D' of the Bylaw (Schedule 'D' shows the urban area of the City, as well as those lands adjacent to the urban area);
  • The operation of existing cemeteries and golf courses;
  • Works undertaken by utility providers, surveyors, or any level of government; and,
  • Trees removed for the operation of a pit or quarry.

Any person wishing to remove a tree should check with the appropriate municipal staff to determine whether a Tree Permit is required. Contact the Planning and Development Department at 613-546-4291, ext. 3180.

How do I apply for a tree permit?

If a Tree Permit is required, an applicant should do the following:

  • Complete the Tree Permit Application
  • Submit Tree Permit fee
  • Submit an Arborist's Report (if required; see Question 4 below)

What is an Arborist's Report and why do I need one?

Depending upon the situation, an Arborist Report may be required in support of a Tree Permit Application. The Arborist's Report is expected to address the reasons for the proposed removal of the tree(s) and the preservation measures to be taken for any trees to be retained.

If an Arborist Report is required, the Applicant will need to have the report prepared by a Qualified Forestry Consultant, which includes:

  • A Certified Arborist (certified by the International Society of Arboriculture);
  • A Certified Tree Marker (full certification and good standing with the Ministry of Natural Resources); or,
  • A Registered Professional Forester (full member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association).
The preparation of the report should be done in accordance with the Guidelines for the Completion of an Arborist's Report.

Do I have to plant replacement trees?

Replacement trees may be required as a condition to a Tree Permit. Although it is recognized that trees will have to be removed for both natural causes (i.e. disease) and to allow for development or redevelopment, the long term goal is to at least maintain, if not increase, the amount of tree coverage in the City.

Sections 9 and 10 of the Tree Bylaw deal with the issues of compensation and replacement trees. In most instances, tree replacement can be considered as a condition of a Tree Permit, where, for uncomplicated proposals, the replacement of trees can be realized on a ratio of one replacement tree for every tree removed. However, the City does encourage replacement ratios greater than one to one, in order to increase tree coverage and its related benefits.

In the event that the tree to be removed is located on Municipal Property, or is removed without a Tree Permit, the value of the tree, and the number of replacement trees required, will be calculated using the Trunk Formula Method of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), as illustrated in Schedule 'C' to the Tree Bylaw. The ISA formula takes into consideration a variety of factors to determine the value of a tree, including size, age, species, health, and location. The value of some trees can be considerable, and will therefore usually result in a ratio for replacement trees greater than one to one.

Any monies received in lieu of replacement trees shall be used for the purpose of reforestation.

Can I appeal a decision regarding a tree permit?

A person that has applied for a Tree Permit may appeal to the Council of the City of Kingston under the following situations:

  • If the City refuses to issue a Tree Permit, within 30 days after the refusal; or,
  • If the Applicant objects to a condition of the Tree Permit, in which case the appeal must be made within the 30 days following the issuance of the Tree Permit.

What are the penalties for contravening the Tree Bylaw?

If someone is convicted of an offence for contravening the Tree Bylaw, the conditions of a Tree Permit, or an Order, the Court may order any or all of the following penalties:

  • Prohibit them from continuing or repeating the offence;
  • Require that they rehabilitate the land, including the planting or replanting of trees;
  • Require that they provide compensation to the City (in accordance with Section 10 of the Tree Bylaw); and/or,
  • Require that they pay a fine equal to:
    • For a person: $10,000 or $1,000 per tree (whichever is greater) on a first offence, and $25,000 or $2,500 per tree (whichever is greater) on any subsequent offence; and,
    • For a corporation: $50,000 or $5,000 per tree (whichever is greater) on a first offence, and $100,000 or $10,000 per tree (whichever is greater) on any subsequent offence.

Who do I contact if I have other questions?

For further information regarding the City of Kingston Tree Bylaw, or to obtain a copy of the document, please refer to the City's website.

You may also contact the Planning & Development Department to obtain further information and to inquire if a Tree Permit is required for a particular situation.

Location: 1211 John Counter Blvd. Phone: 613-546-4291, ext. 3180 Fax: 613-542-9965

In order to determine if a tree on your property is within the municipal right-of-way, please contact the Public Works Department through the customer service centre at 613-546-0000.