In an effort to keep cities green and reduce pollution, many Canadian cities require that property owners file an arborist report prior to removing any large trees or constructing a building near them. There are, however, several instances where you do not need to file a report, usually based on the tree's health or size. Although these exemptions are relatively common throughout Canada, your local ordinances may vary, and each city's bylaws on the subject are slightly different. Always check with your city's planning department before you begin cutting down trees to spare yourself an expensive legal headache later on.
When The Tree is Hazardous
A dead or dying tree that poses an imminent threat to the people around it can typically be cleared without notice. You may, for example, find a leaning tree on your property after a powerful storm, while a neglected property may contain numerous dead trees that are of no value to anyone and pose a risk of falling unexpectedly. In these cases, the trees should be removed prior to any development to ensure the health and safety of the construction crew.
When an Ash Tree is Infested
Emerald ash borers are an invasive species of beetle that journeyed from Asia to North America by 2002. They have killed tens of millions of ash trees so far, and they are still spreading. Because of the seriousness of this infestation, many cities and municipalities now allow infested ash trees to be removed without an arborist report. You may be required to dispose of the tree in a designated, isolated area, so check with your local planning office before you begin clearing the tree.
When the Tree is Small
Tree protection and retention laws are meant to preserve old, established trees that are of significant value to the community. Young saplings, on the other hand, are of less concern and can usually be removed without filing paperwork. Vancouver, for instance, only requires an arborist report and application to remove trees that are more than 20 centimeters in diameter at a point that is 1.4 meters from the ground. As an aside, Vancouver also requires an arborist's certification to clear dead and dying trees, which is why it is so important to check your local bylaws before proceeding with any project.
When the Tree is Damaging Public Infrastructure
In some cases, a large and healthy tree may still be removed if it is impacting public services such as power and sewer lines. Your arborist will need to certify that the tree is growing into the utility and cannot reasonably be pruned or relocated to avoid the conflict. The tree protection bylaws in many Canadian municipalities may seem restrictive at first, but by working with your local administrators and a dedicated team of arborists, you should be able to continue with your construction project while still preserving the rich urban ecosystem that trees provide for a city.
Trimming trees didn't sound hard, which is why I decided to try it on my own. After finding a ladder and renting a pair of pruning shears, I started working on my own yard. Unfortunately, about an hour later, I could tell that I had caused some damage. Some of the trees looked absolutely botched, which made me worry about things like disease and fungal infections. I realized that I needed to work with a real professional and learn a little more about tree service. This blog is all about how to avoid tree trimming mistakes, which is information I could have used a few months ago.