Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

City of Toronto tree-removal bylaws: The insanity continues

Caroline wants to take down one tree and replace it, at her sole expense, with THREE trees. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! She's in bureaucratic hell.

Three years ago, we wrote a post about the City of Toronto’s often nonsensical tree preservation rules. We believe that these rigid rules can sometimes stop good builders from building good houses – even when they offer to remove and replant trees at their own expense.

A woman in Toronto who is working with a design-build firm to build a new home on her property emailed us her version of Tree Bureaucrat Hell yesterday…

I just found your old article from 2014 about a contractor going through hell with the City of Toronto’s tree protection people. Well, I’m also going through a crazy time right now with the City on this issue.

I want to build a new house on my 50 foot lot. It for some reason has two city trees on it whereas all other the lots have one or none. These trees are well over 60 years old and are, I think, boring old Norway Maples. They are not in great shape due to bad pruning for hydro lines, etc. and they have their roots exposed above ground.

I want to remove one of the city trees – because it is right where I need to put my new driveway – and replace it with THREE trees at my own expense.

But because of their “tree protection zone” – and having to move the old driveway to allow for sideways clearance – the city says I can only have a driveway less than their own minimum width of 3 metres. The city wants us to have a small driveway at the road, then past the tree protection zone we can expand it to fit the garage – though it will end up bending a few times. CRAZY!

Why did I have two city trees in the first place?

By the way, my councillor is useless. His assistant says, “We can’t change something that happened 60 years ago!”

Any advice from your readers?


Editor’s Note: We asked Caroline why she herself is tackling the permit/trees issues rather than have her builder do it, and she said the driveway issue she’s refers to here is outside of the scope of the builder’s current work… “and my husband and myself like to have all our ducks in a row to tackle problems sooner rather than later.”

See also: Contractor says Toronto’s tree protection rules are grossly unfair to contractors


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