Call before you cut!

Jennifer Jarvis, Stakeholder Communications and Marketing Advisor, OMAFRA

Municipalities are responsible for developing their own by-laws. Your municipality may have passed by-laws that determine if you can remove a tree from your land or woodlot. These by-laws may include conditions that affect how you carry out the work, including the need for a qualified professional and/or a permit to complete the work.

Tree protection by-laws and the requirement for permits, including the types of conditions within them, can differ between municipalities. Save yourself from costly fines or legal fees – talk to your municipality first before removing trees. In areas where there is an upper-tier municipality, you may need to talk to both the upper-tier and the lower- tier municipality.

Municipal authority for tree protection by-laws is outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001, administered by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. As a starting point, refer to sections 135-141 of the Municipal Act for more information about the powers of municipalities respecting tree cutting by-laws.

The Municipal Act does not explicitly provide exemptions for agriculture. Municipalities, however, commonly include exemptions in their by-laws for horticultural operations, such as:

  • Commercial fruit and nut orchards
  • Christmas tree production
  • Commercial tree nurseries
  • Commercial sugar bush and maple syrup operations

Visit the Ontario Woodlot Association’s website for additional information.