May 2005 Issue
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Trees Count
Tonnes for Trees






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The June 4 Tree Fest (June 5 is the rain date) includes a tree walk with biologist Paul O’Hara, and an historical tour of Victoria Park with Murray Aikman, author of Strathcona Remembers. We’ll also hear the wonderful tree poetry of Hamilton writer John Terpstra, and formally honour a heritage Red Maple tree. And there’ll be displays, music, kids activities and a free barbeque lunch.

The event starts at 11 am in the northwest corner of the park at Strathcona and Florence and is co-sponsored by Environment Hamilton and the Strathcona Community Council. Tree lovers are encouraged to attend.


A draft tree-cutting bylaw for Hamilton was released in late April and has generated considerable discussion. At this point it offers almost no protection to urban trees, but public concern could change that. The bylaw focuses on woodlots larger than two acres in the rural area and those half an acre inside the urban boundary, and it provides numerous exemptions to proposed restrictions on tree removal. The law would not apply to activities of the city itself, nor those of hydro. Trees could also be removed without permits for pits and quarries, for approved subdivision development, and within 15 metres of building construction.

There is no requirement to replace lost trees and where a permit is required for cutting, it is only about $10 per tree.

The only residential trees protected by the law are those in designated heritage districts and greater than 30 cm in diameter.

However, media reports suggest that city councillors are willing to strengthen the bylaw. Comments can be made to city staff until June 3 (see box below).

Toronto adopted a “Private Tree Bylaw” last September that protects all trees of all species with a diameter of 30 cm or more, including backyard trees.

Their permit to remove a tree costs $100, must include an arborist’s report, and generally will only be approved if the tree TreesHamilton is published by is unhealthy or is causing structural damage. Illegal tree removals can be reported to the city 24 hours a day.

Toronto explains the intent of the bylaw as “to protect trees situated on private property from being damaged or cutdown unnecessarily and to ensure the on-going health and well-being of the city’s urban forest. Additionally, [it] provides a standardized and equitable approach to protecting the city’s urban forest while helping to increase awareness of the environmental, aesthetic and economic benefits of trees [and] recognizes the important contribution of trees to the quality of life in Toronto.”

If a permit is issued, the tree must be replaced or a payment made equal to 120% of the cost of replanting and maintaining the tree for two years. Reasons to deny a permit include that “the tree is healthy”, “significant vistas will not be adequately protected” or “erosion or flood control will be negatively impacted”.

The bylaw does allow tree removal for development, if “site plan, subdivision, consent or committee of adjustment approval has been obtained” and only if “the trees must be injured or destroyed to facilitate construction in accordance with plans approved by the City”. The permit fee for development is $200 per tree.

How to Comment on the Proposed Bylaw

The draft bylaw can be examined at

Comments on it can be made until June 3 to Cathy Plosz at Or you can contact your city councillor. The City of Toronto tree-cutting rules are on-line at


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