Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tree Protection in the GTA (Greater Toronto area) ???

As mentioned a few times in my blog articles... the issues of tree protection in the City of Toronto are very present. Through my work as a designer in the Greater Toronto Area, I often come across issues of trees on private property that have been 'planted in the wrong place'.

Knowing how strict Toronto's Urban Forestry is in regards to tree protection, I began to look into tree protection bylaws in the surrounding areas...

The Town of Richmond Hill

As of March 19th, 2007... The Town of Richmond Hill enacted a tree protection bylaw... trees greater than 20 cm in caliper diameter are protected!

20 cm!?!?! I thought to myself... In Toronto they regulate at 30 cm! Hmmmm.... Is Richmond Hill trying to one up their big neighbour to the south?? Whatever the case... it looks good on them! Makes my job a bit more difficult ... but I am happy to comply with regulations that save trees!

The City of Vaughan

... no protection set in place as of yet but a recent event in Klienburg has resulted in a stir of activity to push a tree protection by law into place... right now, what is protected in terms of trees in the Vaughan area is woodlots.

In the past, the population explosion of Urban development in the "Town" of Vaughan made it jump to city status almost overnight. (A town changes to City status once the population exceeds 50 000 people) One would conclude there are more residential properties in Vaughan then there are old growth woodlots... All I can say regarding that is...Get to it Vaughan!!!

The Town of Newmarket

... No mention of tree protection ... What happened? I think there is something pending but nothing I can find just yet...

The Township of King

... or more popularly known as King City ... no mention of tree protection ... although they are a smaller group in the GTA, they still have some headwaters of the Humber River Basin to think about! Maybe coordinate with the Seneca College Campus in King and get some conservation programs in place? How about linking up with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and setting a bylaw in place with them?

The City of Mississauga and the Town of Aurora

I grouped these two areas because of similar bylaws...

In Mississauga... No tree greater than 15 cm!!! Shall be cut without a permit ... the best size yet, but there is a snag here...

In Aurora... a 20 cm bylaw ... from what I can tell on their website, protects trees greater then 20 cm in caliper diameter... Toronto??? Still 30 cm!

But wait!!! There is a snag here to the bylaw in both of these areas!!!

The By-law states that property owners require a permit to remove 5 or more trees that are within regulated diameters or larger from their private property in a calendar year.

That means, you can remove 4 trees of any size within January to December of each year. ????????? But cut a 5th tree in that time period and you need a permit?????

Who the heck made that bylaw up??? Maybe someone in the city council had 4 trees on their property that they wanted gone and wanted to fly under the radar the day the bylaw was drafted up???

Based on my interpretation of this bylaw, you can cut 4 trees on your property each year and if you have a lot of trees on your property, divide the total number by 4 to get how many years it will take you to have a completely cleared lot without ever contacting anyone for permission! That seems like a joke to me....

The City of Brampton

I found this by-law in place since 2006 I believe... Brampton Tree Preservation By-Law I believe it states that you need a permit to remove most trees over 40 cm DBH. Not that impressive but at least there is some sort of preservation for the larger trees. Also noted is that one can remove a tree at any size if it is considered invasive according to the City of Brampton. There are many exemptions to needing a permit so it is best to read through the by-law and see where your situation fits in.

The Town of Oakville

From what I can tell on their website, enacted back in 2004 was a bylaw to preserve trees greater than 30 cm in diameter... same as Toronto's standards... I think Toronto should change their bylaw to 20 cm in diameter!

Durham Region

At the moment Durham Region has a bylaw enacted to protect woodlots ... With the Urban sprawl going on in this region, hopefully the local communities act and set bylaw protections in place for private properties as well...

Pickering ...has a limited bylaw for conservation lands

Ajax ... when I looked it up I got an error page with the following text at the top "The system cannot find the file specified"... good luck with that one.... Hopefully it is in error due to updates on changing tree protection bylaws???

Whitby ... similar to Pickering, has protection in place for designated conservation lands and woodlots but not much for private property unless your property falls under the protected land areas.

Oshawa ... all I could find was a protection bylaw for City owned trees and it was enacted in 1983!! Time for an update???

Anyway, I hope to update this post for any changes to the bylaws in some of these communities. I may have missed some bylaws that are in place, if I did, they are hard to find on their websites!!! (Note to the webmasters)

Anyone with further information regarding tree bylaws in these areas... feel free to contact me and I will look into them so I can update this article...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tree Damage

Can you spot it?

To a trained eye, a person that knows trees would spot it in an instant! The above photo is taken from a front yard I had designed about 4 years ago. The property looks well maintained by professionals from far away...

But upon closer inspection I noticed some tragic details that were never tended to! The orange arrows say it all!

The tree stakes were left in 4 years after they were planted!!!

When I first drew out the landscape plan and imagined these trees in my mind's eye, I never would have imagined this... Was it my fault for not informing the home owners? Or was it the contractor's fault for not informing them that something they did once they were planted, needed to come out after the second year of growth!

What you can't see is the wires still looped around the trunk... the tree has now grown into the wires and is causing it to girdle itself. The mass of branches that have developed along the base of the trunk is a survival tactic!

The roots are thriving! Yet the nutrients have no place to go! The tree knows if it is not corrected soon, the top portion above the wires will soon die off and it is ready to start new from the base... any one of those small branches growing from below the wire will take the lead as a "leader branch".

This stands to reason that I should probably visit my landscapes more often... but when you do so many, how can one possibly keep an eye on them all?

I give the landscape maintenance crew an 'A' for effort to make the grounds look good...

but a failing grade is given for not recognizing the need to remove the tree-stakes!!!