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Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices

Chapter 5. Enabling Legislation, Municipal By-laws and Regulations

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Enabling Legislation, Municipal By-laws and Regulations

In Canada, legislation is enacted and enforced at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. Because the urban forest is largely managed at the municipal level, it is the municipalities who enact and enforce legislation regarding trees on both municipal and private land. Municipalities can pass these laws only under the authority of enabling legislation from the province. Some common elements of tree cutting by-laws include:

  • Regulation of hydro utility practices, damaging practices by residents (e.g. topping), and tree protection during construction activities
  • Protection of heritage trees
  • Building envelope placement, tree preservation plans, permits, and replacement trees

Legal precedents in Canada regarding trees on private and public property involve the joint ownership between private landowners and municipalities and boundary disputes between neighbours (Hartley v. Cunningham/Scharper, 2013; Gross v. Scheuermann, 2017). Tree by-laws state prohibited activities, exemptions, processes, and enforcement through fixed fines and penalties.

Canadian municipal urban forestry by-laws, policies, and regulations:


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