New Tree Protection By-Law

The City’s new Tree Protection By-law came into effect on January 1, 2021. The purpose is to retain more trees in Ottawa’s communities. 

This by-law applies to all City property trees as well as “distinctive” trees on private property, including infill development sites. A distinctive tree is defined as a tree with a diameter of 30 cm or more. Trees of this size require a permit for their removal and new requirements have been added if tree removal is for infill development, with a penalty for unauthorized tree removal. 

If a distinctive tree straddles one or more private properties, the permit applicant must provide the written consent of the adjoining property owner(s). A few exemptions do apply regarding removal permits; more details can be found under Tree Protection (By-law 2020-340) City of Ottawa, particularly under PART III.

Neighbourhood Tree Watch

The City does not monitor neighbourhoods for violations, and only acts when complaints have been received. It can issue a stop work order, but too often the trees have already been cut down and evidence has been removed. So it is important that residents are aware of the new by-law and be proactive. Immediately report cases of tree removal and potential violations by calling 311 (always ask for a report number so it can be tracked) and also contact our Community Association at or by calling 613 314-6555. We need to get the word out that we care and that people are watching.

How to measure a distinctive tree

Distinctive trees have diameters of 30 cm (11.8 inches) or more. You can determine this by using a tape measure and string. Measure 137.16 cm (4.5 feet) up the trunk from the ground, and wrap the string around the trunk at this point. Measure the length of the string. If the circumference is 94 cm ( 37 inches) or more, it is considered a distinctive tree and will require a permit. Once you have measured a tree of this size, it’s not too hard to eyeball others.

Learn more about the by-law on the City of Ottawa website:

Learn more about the City View Community Association Tree Committee:

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