Tree removal on private property

City building

Tree Removal By-law 21-074

On June 28, 2021, City Council passed the Tree Removal By-law 21-074.

The by-law regulates the removal of trees within the City of Peterborough. It also helps to protect and enhance the tree canopy and natural vegetation in the municipality. The information on this web page is intended as a guide. Please carefully review the by-law for the most complete information.

This by-law requires that you obtain a permit before removing a tree that has reached or, at its physiological maturity, has the potential to reach a diameter of at least 7.5 cm at breast height. 

When to apply for a permit

An application is required to remove any privately-owned tree measuring at least 7.5 cm at breast height, or 137 cm from the ground. Tree owners are required to submit an application to the City in advance of any work being completed. This can be done by the property owner, a Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP), or an applicant on the owner's behalf. Processing times for these applications is based on the accuracy of information submitted. It is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a LTSP or an arborist to ensure your application is correct.

Application process overview
If you are intending to remove a tree from private property, it is essential that an application is submitted to the City in advance of any work being completed. This can be done by the property owner, a Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP), or an applicant on the owner's behalf. It is recommended that all property owners hire a LTSP to submit the online application form on their behalf. Applications must be completed through our online portal and are not available to complete in person.

 

Please review the following information needed for the application before you begin the process:
  1. First determine if the diameter of the tree trunk is 7.5 cm or greater at breast height. This measurement is known as DBH, or diameter at breast height. Trees less than 7.5 cm DBH do not require an application or permit from the City in order to remove.
  2. Confirm the ownership of the tree. If any part of the trunk up to the first branch (including the root collar) is straddling other properties, all property owners must submit an application to remove the tree. Provide the location of the tree including street number, street name, the tree owner's name and address if different from the tree location.
  3. Establish whether the tree is located in the front, side, or back of the property.
  4. If you plan to remove more than five trees, you will need to contact Urban Forestry Staff. If this is the case, it is highly recommended that you contact an LTSP to perform the work and submit the application on your behalf.
  5. Provide a description of the subject tree including:
    • Species (scientific and common name)
    • Size (DBH)
      1. Diameter at breast height (DBH) is a standard measurement for size of a tree. To determine DBH, first measure 1.37 m from the ground at the base of the tree. At this height above the ground, measure around the tree trunk to get the circumference and divide that measurement by 3.14 (∏). This will give you the diameter (width of the tree trunk). A multi-trunk tree is considered one tree. The diameter of the tree will be determined by adding together the diameter of the stems measured at DBH.
    • The structural condition of the tree rated as good, fair, poor, or likely to fail. This is an assessment of tree structure (i.e. the stability of parts of or the whole tree itself). 
    • The physiological condition of the tree (i.e. the health of the tree) assessed as:
      • Good (less than 10% dead)
      • Fair (10-30% dead)
      • Poor (30-50% dead)
      • Dying (50-100% dead)
      • Dead or death imminent (100% dead)
  6. Provide an explanation why the tree is to be removed. For example: the tree is dead or dying, landscaping, installing a pool or a deck, building an addition, etc.
  7. Provide a detailed sketch that must include the following approximations: property lines, street(s), driveway, all buildings, all trees, tree numbers for each tree that is proposed to be removed.
    • Note that the City may not issue a permit for a boundary tree (a tree on or near a shared property line) without each owner submitting an application.
    • Photos should show the entire tree where possible, and additional photos should be included that support your reason for removal (e.g., cracks, splits, dead areas of the canopy, storm damage, or pest/disease infestation).
  8. Provide non-refundable Permit Fee if removing a healthy tree.
  9. Provide non-refundable Application Fee regardless of status of the tree.
  10. If a healthy tree is being removed, permit conditions include the planting of replacement trees.

There is no Permit Fee for the removal of dead or dying trees, high-risk trees, Emerald Ash Borer-infested trees, and buckthorn species. Application Fees still apply. High-risk trees need to be determined by a LTSP. 

Fees
Permit Fee

There is a non-refundable Permit Fee to remove healthy trees that measure at least 15cm DBH. The fees are as follows:

  • $50.00 - For an application submitted by a Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP).

  • $150.00 - For an application submitted by a tree owner or applicant.

Application Fee

There is a non-refundable Application Fee added to all applications regardless of size or status of the trees. The fees are as follows:

  • $15.00 - For an application of 0-5 trees submitted by a LTSP, tree owner, or applicant.

  • $150.00 - For an application of 6+ trees submitted by a LTSP, tree owner, or applicant.

Apply to remove a tree

City-owned trees, including street trees and trees in parks, cannot be removed under this by-law. These trees are owned and maintained by the City. If you have a question or wish to request maintenance of a City-owned tree you can contact Public Works

The Tree Removal Application must be requested by the owner of a tree on private property. This can be done by three parties:

  • The tree owner
  • A Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP) on behalf of the owner
  • An applicant on behalf of the owner
It is advisable that the tree owner hire a LTSP or arborist to remove any privately owned trees and to submit the application. Applications must be completed through our online portal and are not available to complete in person.

Tree Removal Application 

Tree Replacement- Notice of Fulfillment

If you are removing a healthy tree, your permit conditions include a requirement to plant a replacement tree and/or make a cash-in-lieu payment for the City to plant trees on municipal land. One replacement tree is required for each tree removed. The property owner must inform the City when the replacement tree has been replanted. If you choose not to replant on your property, you will be required to pay the Tree Replacement Fee. The Tree Replacement Fee is $550 per tree, based on the City’s current contracted rate. This rate is based on the annual cost to plant trees on City–owned lands.

Replacement trees must be a minimum of 2 cm in diameter and of a species that will have a similar size and stature to the removed tree at maturity. Replacement trees must be planted within the grounds of the property where the first tree was removed. The property owner must inform the City when the tree has been replanted using the notification form below.

Tree Replacement Notification Form

Woodland Conservation By-Law

The Woodland Conservation By-law 17-121 regulates the injury and or destruction of trees within woodlands (forested areas). Woodlands may be located on one or more properties. Please contact Urban Forestry is you have questions regarding this Bylaw.

Frequently asked questions

What is the cost of a tree removal permit?

There are two fees associated with tree removals. There is a Permit Fee and an Application Fee.

The Permit Fee is a non-refundable fee to remove healthy trees that measure at least 15cm DBH. This fee is only applicable to trees that are not dead or dying. The fees are as follows:

  • $50.00 - For an application submitted by a Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP).

  • $150.00 - For an application submitted by a tree owner or applicant.

The Application Fee is a non-refundable fee added to all applications regardless of size or status of the trees. The fees are as follows:

  • $15.00 - For an application of 0-5 trees submitted by a LTSP, tree owner, or applicant.

  • $150.00 - For an application of 6+ trees submitted by a LTSP, tree owner, or applicant.

Do I need to replant a tree after a removal?
If you are removing a healthy tree, your permit conditions include a requirement to plant a replacement tree.
If you choose not to replant a tree on your property, you will be required to pay the Tree Replacement Fee. The Tree Replacement Fee is $550 per tree.
What is a Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP)?

A Licensed Tree Service Provider (LTSP) is an arborist that has applied for and received a license from the City. These arborists have been approved by the Urban Forestry Team to complete Tree Removal Applications on behalf of property owners at a lower fee due to frequency of work. They are qualified to assess the health, species, and condition of trees slated for removals.

Can I apply to prune or remove a tree on public property?

Trees located within the municipal road allowance, parks, and open spaces are City-owned and private citizens cannot remove or damage these publicly-owned trees. Damaging or removing these trees will result in monetary penalties. 

Caring for and/or removing these trees is the City’s responsibility. If the tree is located close to or on the City side of the property line please contact Public Works. Public Works is responsible for the maintenance of publicly-owned trees.

What if my neighbour's tree is a hazard to me or my property?

In cases where neighbouring trees are dead and/or dangerous, the City can require tree pruning or removal under the Property Standards By-law. This by-law applies if a neighbouring tree is at risk to damage you or your property. You can learn more on our Home and Property page and use our online form to file a complaint.

The by-law does not address all issues or disputes between neighbours respecting trees. If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities, you should consult your lawyer.

What about removing trees before or during development projects?

Before receiving a site plan under the Planning Act, the Tree Removal By-Law and replacement requirements apply to all tree removals.

The Tree Removal By-Law does not apply once development projects have been approved under the Planning Act. These projects include but are not limited to:

  • A site plan
  • Plan of a subdivision
  • Consent to sever a property

Before removing trees as part of the development of a piece of land, a detailed tree inventory, preservation plan, and landscaping plan are required. These are a requirement of all planning applications.
Replacement tree planting is required in addition to the standard planting requirements of landscaping plans.

What are the by-law's enforcement measures?

The by-law includes various measures to ensure compliance including permit revocation, administrative orders, municipal remedial work at the owner’s expense, and administrative monetary penalties and fines.

The first stage of enforcement will always be contact with the infractor by the City via written letter.

Do I have to apply for a separate Tree Removal Permit if I have already applied for a Building Permit or Pool Enclosure Permit?
Yes, but only if the proposed development will require the removal of a tree that is regulated by the Tree Removal By-law.