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Tree Removal Bylaw 21-074

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

The By-law regulates the destruction or injury 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 for convenience. However, you should carefully review the by-law which sets out the regulatory requirements.

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 (~3”) at breast height.

Apply to remove a tree

You must be the owner of the tree to submit an application. Alternatively, an owner may obtain a permit from a licensed Tree Service Provider. Public street trees and trees in parks cannot be removed under this By-law. 

Tree replacement 

If you are removing healthy trees, your permit conditions may include a requirement to plant replacement trees. The property owner/applicant must inform the City when the tree(s) has been replanted. If you choose not to replant on your property then you will be required to pay the City’s current contracted rate based on the annual cost to plant trees on City–owned lands.

Tree Replacement Notification Form


Application Fee

Effective March 1, 2023 there is a non-refundable $15.00 Application Fee for any application to obtain a permit for the injury or destruction of a tree regardless of tree size, tree species or condition. 

* If you are applying to remove more than five trees please contact a licensed Tree Service Provider. Effective March 1, 2023 applications for more than five trees require a $150.00 administrative processing fee.

Permit Fee

There is a non-refundable permit fee to remove healthy trees that measure 15 cm (6 inches) or greater in diameter at breast height as follows:

  • $50.00- If you obtain a permit from a licensed Tree Service Provider.

  • $150.00 - If you are a tree owner submitting an application without a licensed Tree Service Provider.


Tree Replacement

If you are removing healthy trees, permit conditions could include, for example, a requirement to plant one or more replacement trees. Replacement trees must be a minimum 2 cm in diameter, of a species which will have a mature size & stature to the tree(s) that was removed. Replacement trees must be planted within the grounds of the property where the tree(s) was removed. The owner/ applicant must inform the City when the tree(s) has been replanted.

If you choose not to replant on your property then you will be required to pay the City’s current contracted rate based on the annual cost to plant trees on City–owned lands.

The Tree Replacement fee is $550 per tree, based on the City’s current contracted rate.

Application process to get a permit for tree removal on private property

If you are intending to remove a tree from private property, it is recommended that all property/tree owners consult a Tree Service Provider licensed by the City of Peterborough to submit the online application form on their behalf. 


Please review the following steps to understand the application process before you begin.
  1. You must first determine if the diameter of the tree trunk is 7.5 cm (3 inches) or greater at breast height, known as DBH, or diameter at breast height. Trees less than 7.5cm DBH, regardless of their condition, do not require an application or permit from the City.
  2. Confirm the ownership of the tree. If any part of the trunk up to the first branch (including the root crown) 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 name and address if different from the tree location.
  3. State whether the tree or trees/s are 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 a licensed Tree Service Provider or Urban Forestry Staff for more information.
  5. Provide a description of the subject tree(s) including:
    • species (scientific and common name)
    • size (DBH), Diameter at breast height (DBH) is a standard measurement for the size of a tree. To determine diameter at breast height, use a tape measure to first measure 1.37 m or 4.5 ft from the ground at the base of the tree (like measuring your waist). 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). If you are using metric it may be best to work in centimeters or, if you are in imperial measurements, work in inches and convert your final answer into centimeters. A multiple trunk tree will be considered as 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 each tree is proposed to be removed. For example: the tree is dead or dying (see above), or to enable landscaping, installing a pool or a deck, or a building addition.
  7. Provide a Detailed Sketch: that must include the following approximations: property lines, street(s), driveway, all buildings, all trees, tree numbering for each tree that is proposed to be removed.  (Note that if subject trees are close to the property line the City may not issue a permit for a boundary tree without each owner submitting an application). Include the entire tree where possible, and where necessary, pictures that support your reason/s for removing the tree (e.g., cracks, splits, dead areas of the canopy, storm damage or pest/disease infestation).
  8. Provide non-refundable Application Fee regardless of tree size, species or condition.
  9. Provide non-refundable Permit Fee if removing a healthy tree over 15 cm (6”) DBH (Diameter at Breast Height).
  10. If a healthy tree that measures 15 cm (~6” ) in diameter at breast height is being removed, permit conditions could include the planting of one or more replacement trees.
  11. In response to an application, a permit will be issued at no charge for the removal of Dead or dying trees, high-risk trees, dead, dying or Emerald Ash Borer infested ash trees, and buckthorn species. Note: High-risk trees need to be determined by a licensed Tree Service Provider.

Tree Removal Permit Application Form

When to apply for a permit
As of July 9, 2021 an application to the City is required to the remove any tree measuring 7.5 cm (~3 inches) or more in diameter measured at 137 cm or 4.5 ft from the ground diameter at breast height.
Frequently asked questions
 Trees on public property

Trees located within the municipal road allowance, parks and open spaces are City-owned. Private citizens cannot remove these publicly-owned trees. Caring for and/or removing these trees is the City’s responsibility. Damaging or removing these trees will result in monetary penalties.

If the tree is located close to or on the City side of the property line please contact Public Works at 705-745-1386. Public Works is responsible for the maintenance of publicly-owned trees.

 Property Standards By-law 
In cases where trees are dead and/or dangerous, the City can require tree pruning or removal under the Property Standards By-law. You can learn more on our Home and Property page and use our online form to file a complaint.
 Disputes between neighbours
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 with your lawyer.
 Removing trees during development
The Tree removal by-law does not apply to the injuring or removal of trees as a condition to the approval of a site plan, plan of subdivision or a consent to sever property under the Planning Act. When removing trees as part of the development of a piece of land, a detailed tree inventory and preservation plan is required for all planning applications.
 Processing times
Tree owners are required to submit an application to either the City or to a licensed Tree Service Provider. Processing times for these applications will be based on the accuracy of information submitted. It is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a licensed tree service provider or an Arborist to ensure your application is correct.
Replacement trees and fees
The permit fee for the removal of healthy tree or trees at a single property is $50.00/permit for a permit issued by a Licensed Tree Service Provider and $150.00/permit for a permit issued by the City. These fees are non-refundable. There is a non-refundable $15.00 Application Fee added to all applications regardless of size or status of the trees. Permit conditions could include a requirement to plant one or more replacement trees. 

The By-law includes various measures to ensure compliance including permit revocation, administrative orders (e.g., requiring things to be done at an owner’s expense), municipal remedial work at the owner’s expense, administrative monetary penalties and fines.

Do I have to apply for a separate Tree Permit if I have already applied for a Building Permit, Pool Enclosure Permit?
Yes, but only if the proposed development will require the removal of a tree that is regulated by the Tree Permit Bylaw.
 What if it is a healthy tree being removed but I cannot replant on my own private property?

If you choose not to replant on your property then you will be required to pay the City’s current contracted rate based on the annual cost to plant trees on City–owned lands. 

$550 per tree, based on the City’s current contracted rate.

The City of Peterborough proactively manages our community's urban forest to maintain and promote the many social, economic and environmental benefits that our community gets from its trees. We play a key role in maintaining the tree canopy through maintenance, planting, removal, and pest management programs for publicly-owned trees.

The urban forest, or green infrastructure, of a city is comprised of both private and publicly-owned trees. Approximately 80% of the urban forest is privately owned. As stewards, Peterborough and its citizens value the urban forest as an important part of the City‘s green infrastructure.

Benefits of urban trees

One tree 15 centimetres in diameter can absorb 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide and intercept almost 2,000 litres of rainfall per year.

The benefits of trees include:

  • Reducing flooding
  • Improving air quality
  • Increasing property values
  • Providing habitat for wildlife
  • Reducing household energy bills
  • Reducing heat build-up in the City
  • Improving mental and physical health

Tree conservation by-laws

We recognize the environmental, aesthetic and public health benefits that trees and the urban forest provide to the entire community. Through the Tree Removal By-law 21-074 and the Woodland Conservation By-law, we regulate the removal of healthy trees to maintain our urban forest, collect information, and plan for the future of our tree canopy.

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.


If you have any questions regarding the Tree Removal By-law or the Woodland Conservation By-law, please contact the Urban Forestry Division.

Public and Stakeholder Engagement 

A public engagement and consultation process was conducted in November and December 2019 to gain an understanding of public perspectives regarding the value of trees and to gain input on approaches to conserve the urban forest canopy. The multifaceted process included five public meetings, an online survey, interviews with stakeholders and tree care professionals. Read the Urban Forest Canopy Conservation Engagement Report Summary.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program Update

 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program Update


Ash tree stumping will commence this spring and should be completed by the fall. Staff cannot provide exact dates or times for each stump removal. Once the stump has been ground, the contractor will apply grass seed, sod will not be provided.

Healthy Ash trees will be injected this summer with TreeAzin, which protects the Ash tree from EAB infestation. There is no action required by residents. You may notice green dots on the trunks of public trees that are being treated.

During the month of June, City staff will be inspecting public ash trees to determine their current condition. Trees that do not qualify for treatment will be prioritized for removal based on their condition and hazard potential. Pink dots mean a tree is slated for removal. Residents will receive a notice notifying them of the ash tree removal.

The Ash tree replacement tree program was put on hold last year (2021) due to the increased level of EAB infestation, we are dedicating all our efforts towards the inspection, and treatment or removal of prioritized public Ash street trees, as required. Should the replanting program be available this year property owners who had a public ash tree removed, are on a prioritized list to receive a replacement tree and will receive notice and no further action is needed from the property owner.

The Emerald Ash Borer an invasive insect pest known has been spreading through Ontario since 2002. In 2014, we started confirming the presence of the invasive species in Peterborough – and its presence has been steadily increasing. The Emerald Ash Borer kills ash trees unless the trees are properly treated. We have a 12-year (2014-2025), $4-million EAB management plan to respond to the emerald ash borer situation, including selectively treating or removing and replacing ash trees on public property. Please note: at this time there is no longer a subsidy for the treatment or the removal of ash trees on private property.

Urban Forest Strategic Plan

The City of Peterborough recognizes and values the environmental, social, cultural and economic contribution of the urban forest to our community.

In June 2011, Peterborough’s City Council adopted the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP), a document to provide guidance and direction for the maintenance, renewal and community awareness of our urban forest resource.

progress report for the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) was submitted to council in June of 2016 as part of a 5 year review. The report assesses the work done to date and reassesses the priorities for the next 5 years.

To safeguard the many benefits provided by trees, the City is committed to managing the urban forest by promoting community stewardship and strategic practice to preserve, renew and enhance this essential resource.

 Community Tree Planting Request
The City of Peterborough is working to grow its tree canopy as an important part of the community response to climate change; reducing carbon and improving the environment for everyone.

Trees planted in the road allowance are usually referred to as street trees. Street tree planting provides the most benefit to the community such as shading hard surfaces, cleaning the air and moderating stormwater flows.

We are looking for your help to find suitable locations for street trees within the road allowance in front of residential properties, either between the road and sidewalk or between the sidewalk and private property line. If there is no sidewalk planting will be between the road and property line.

If your property frontage has no tree and you would like one, please submit a request for tree planting

We are now planning for the 2023 tree planting season. If you request a tree, your address will be added to our waiting list for potential tree planting locations. We cannot guarantee a tree will be planted.

Request a tree

Please note:

  • There is no charge to the property owner as the tree will be provided by the City and planted on City property.
  • If you had a Ash tree or other tree species removed, you are currently on a waiting list to receive a replacement tree. You do not need to submit a request for a tree.
  • The City will maintain the tree throughout its life, but at the start the homeowner can help by filling the provided watering bag during the growing season.
  • Trees will be approximately 8 to 10 feet tall when planted.
  • Only one tree will be provided per 30 feet of lot frontage. Additional trees may be provided on the side of a corner lot.

The City cannot guarantee that a tree will be planted or the species of tree that will be provided as there are many factors that need consideration such as:

  • Overhead and underground planting and growing space
  • Soil quality and its suitability for tree growth
  • Safety requirements
  • Potential for tree damage
  • The need to diversify tree species across the City
  • The species of tree best suited to the location

Urban Forestry staff will look at each request and determine the preferred planting location, any preparation needed and the best tree species to suit the site. When the tree is scheduled for planting an information card will be left on the door for the homeowner with the planting details and tips on how to help care for the tree.