Hamilton, Dundas, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Brantford, Brant: 905‑529‑5612

Burlington, Waterdown: 905‑637‑1919


Navigating the Permitting Process

Getting tree work done shouldn't be a source of confusion...

Are you considering tree removal and aren't sure where to start? Confused about whether or not you need a tree removal permit? So were we! We've done our best to gather the relevant by-laws and regulations you should be aware of depending on where you live and how big your tree is. To skip to your service area, click on one of the links below:

Do I need a permit to remove, trim, prune or injure my tree? 

Based on our understanding of the latest legislation, here are the permitting regulations for each of the areas that we serve. While we believe this to be an extensive and up to date list, we also encourage you to perform your own research - particularly if you’ve decided to move ahead with the tree work on your own.

The City of Burlington 

Burlington has very strict permitting requirements for ALL city-owned trees and SOME privately-owned trees. 

YES - A permit must be applied for if your tree(s) meet any of the following criteria: 

  • Injuring, destroying or removing a private tree with a diameter at breast height (“DBH”) of 20cm or greater. See below for how to measure DBH and to see whether your tree qualifies.
  • Disturbing, damaging, destroying, removing, injuring or working around a public tree
  • Injuring, destroying or removing any size tree that is a designated Heritage Tree*
  • Injuring, destroying or removing any size of endangered, at risk, or threatened tree species*
  • If the tree is 100% dead**
  • If the tree has a terminal condition**
  • If the tree is high-risk**

* Additional permits and regulations apply

** Permit required, but fees and compensation are waived

Click here for further detail around terminology and definitions for the City of Burlington permitting process. 

NO - A permit is not required if your tree(s) meet any of the following criteria: 

  • Injury or removal of private trees with a diameter at breast height less than 20cm
  • Private tree maintenance (pruning no more than a third of the live crown of a tree within good arboricultural practice)
  • If the private tree is in a nursery or orchard
  • Emergency tree work provided supporting documents are supplied to the City affirming the emergency. Please refer to the by-law for further details or give us a call.
How do I know if I need a permit to work on my private tree in Burlington?  

First, we need to determine if your tree falls under the Private Tree By-Law. In order to do so, you need to measure your tree’s diameter at breast height (“DBH”). Any private tree with a DBH of 20cm or greater falls under The City of Burlington’s Private Tree By-Law and will require a permit to be removed.

How do I measure DBH?

Using a measuring tape or tailor’s tape, measure the tree trunk’s circumference (all the way around the tree) at breast height, which is defined as 1.37m from the base of the trunk of the tree up the tree’s trunk. See the diagram below for reference.

Once you have the tree’s circumference at breast height, divide that number by 3.14 to get the diameter. For example, a 69cm circumference divided by 3.14 is 22cm diameter at breast height.

A Practical Guide to Measuring DBH

how to measure diameter at breast height, a key permitting requirement with the Town of Ancaster how to measure diameter at breast height, a key permitting requirement with the Town of Ancaster how to measure diameter at breast height, a key permitting requirement with the City of Burlington
My private tree is greater than 20cm DBH - now what? How do I apply for a permit?

Visit this website to begin your application process. Be prepared to provide: 

  1. Information about the tree(s) being applied for, such as their size and species name. One of our ISA-certified arborists can help you here - just give us a call. 
  2. A sketch of where the tree(s) being applied for is on your property (you can take a photo of a simple drawing done by hand) 
  3. At least one photo of each tree being applied for
How much does a tree permit cost in the City of Burlington? 
  • Tree Permit Application Processing Fee: $50 + HST per application
  • Private Tree Permit 1-3 Tree Removals Fee: $325 + HST per application
  • Private Tree Permit 4th Tree Removal Fee: $225 + HST per tree
  • Private Tree Permit 5th or more Tree Removal Fee: $125 + HST per tree
  • Private Tree Permit Injury Fee: $75 + HST per tree
  • Private Tree Replacement (cash-in-lieu): $250 per replacement tree
  • Replacement Tree Security Deposit: $250 per replacement tree
  • Tree Permit Extension/Transfer Fee: $50 per request
  • Compliance Inspection Fee: $500 per contravention
  • Public Tree Permit Removal Fee: $515 + HST per tree
  • Public Tree Permit Injury Fee: $257.50 + HST per tree
  • Public Tree Replacement (cash-in-lieu): $500 per tree
  • Public Tree Security Deposit to be determined by staff


I've removed my tree, now what? What are the tree replacement guidelines in the City of Burlington?


According to the City of Burlington, all private trees that are removed must be replaced, either through:

  1. Replanting trees within one year of permit issuance or as prescribed on the tree permit
  2. Cash-in-lieu of replacement
  3. A combination of the above two

The number of trees that you must plant after removing a tree is based on the tree size removed. The City of Burlington offers the following guidelines:

Trunk Diameter Compensation Ratio
20 - 35cm 2:1
36 - 74cm 3:1
Greater than or equal to 75cm


Should you decide to not plant a replacement tree, there is a cash-in-lieu fee of $250 per required replacement tree. This money will be used towards the re-planting of trees elsewhere in the City.

For example, if a removed tree has a DBH measurement of 30cm, this will require two replacement trees and a deposit of $500 ($250 per tree). Once the trees are planted and verified by City of Burlington staff, the $500 will be refunded. If you decide not to replant, the $500 is kept by the City. For additional information, including what trees to plant in lieu of the removed tree, we encourage you to read Burlington’s private tree replacement requirements

Educational resources and guides for navigating the permitting process in the City of Burlington:

  1. City of Burlington Guide to Tree Protection
  2. Public Tree By-law (068-2013)
  3. Private Tree By-law (040-2022)

Still have questions? Visit burlington.ca/forestprotection, call 905-335-7777 or email city@burlington.ca


The City of Hamilton

Do I need a permit to remove, trim, prune or injure my tree in the City of Hamilton?

In the City of Hamilton, there are essentially 2 different standards of care for the maintenance of a tree, depending on whether or not the tree is a:

Private Tree (located on private property) 

According to the City of Hamilton’s website, as of July 6th, 2022 – “The City of Hamilton does not have a private tree by-law that outlines how/what residents are to do with their private tree.” Essentially, if the tree is located on your property, you do not need a permit to trim or remove the tree.

City Tree (located on City property)

If a tree is located on City property, you are forbidden from trimming or removing it. The City of Hamilton routinely prunes trees located on City-owned property (including parks and road allowances) every 7 years. To report an issue with a City tree, please call 905-546-2489. 

If you are trying to determine whether or not a tree is a private tree or a city tree, please call the City of Hamilton Property Standards at 905-546-2424 ext. 2782 or give us a call and we will do our best to advise you on the best path forward. 


The Town of Dundas


Do I need a permit to remove, trim, prune or injure my tree in Dundas?


Pruning for the health of the tree is exempt from a permit. For tree removals, according to Dundas' By-law, you are not required to obtain a permit, except for

  • Proposed development sites without protection through an agreement with the Town
  • Open Space Zones as defined in the Zoning By-law 
  • Environmentally Significant Areas as defined by the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth 
  • The front, side and flankage rear yards in the Cross-Melville Heritage District 


Still confused? Give us a call and we'll have one of our ISA-certified arborists swing by and give you an assessment. 



The Town of Ancaster


Do I need a permit to remove, trim, prune or injure my tree in Ancaster?


There is a By-law in Ancaster that restricts the removal of trees on private property if they meet certain criteria. A permit is required for any private tree that:

  • Is greater than 45cm DBH (diameter at breast height - see the definition and how to calculate DBH in the City of Burlington section above) and is greater than 7.5 meters away from an Occupied Building (defined by Ancaster as a permanent structure used or intended to be used for the shelter, accommodation or enclosure of persons for residential, business, institutional or recreational purposes)


An applicant must contact Municipal Law Enforcement to obtain the permit. They can be reached at MLEtrees@hamilton.ca. 


There is an exception to this rule, however. If the tree in question fits the above critera BUT is any of the following species, you are exempt from applying for a permit

  • All Willow species (Salix spp.)
  • All Poplar species (Populus spp.)
  • Siberian Elms (Ulmuspumila)
  • Manitoba Maples (Acer negundo)
  • Norway Maples (Acer platanoides) 


You are also exempt from requiring a permit if a Qualified Tree Expert (like one of our ISA-certified arborists) considers the removal or destruction of the tree as required because significant portions of the tree are considered dead, diseased or hazardous.  


Ancaster's permitting regulations are a bit confusing - so don't hesitate to reach out to us and we'll point you in the right direction! 



The City of Brantford


Do I need a permit to remove, trim, prune or injure my tree in Brantford?


The City's Private Tree By-law protects certain rare species and a few woodlots on private property. Tree removal permits are not required for private trees, unless: 

  • The property is designated as a protected woodlot, wetland or heritage area. See the lands depicted on Schedule 3-1 on page 6 of Brantford's tree cutting by-law. 
  • The property contains rare or protected species 


The following species are considered protected by the City of Brantford and are NOT permitted to be injured or destroyed at any location within the municipality: 

  • American chestnut 
  • Dwarf hackberry 
  • Kentucky coffee 
  • Blue ash 
  • Dwarf chinquiapin oak 
  • Hills oak
  • Schumard oak 
  • Sweet pignut hickory 
  • Cucumber magnolia
  • Red mulberry 
  • Hop tree


For questions or to submit a completed application, please email forestry@brantford.ca or give them a call at 519-759-4150. As always, please consult with one of our ISA-certified arborists before moving ahead with any tree work - we are more than happy to provide you with a second opinion. 



The County of Brant 


Do I need a permit to remove, trim, prune or injure my tree in Brant? 


Tree removal permits are required for destroying trees on certain woodlands and woodlots. Be sure to read more in Brant's By-laws on the topic. 

Full-Service Tree Care

Get in Touch!

We serve homes and businesses located in Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Dundas, Burlington, Waterdown, Brantford, and Brant County. Call us today for a free on-site assessment by one of our ISA-certified arborists!

Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Dundas: 905‑529‑5612
Burlington, Waterdown: 905‑637‑1919

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