In the new series, Barriston Briefs, Sarah Hahn talks about tree cutting laws in Ontario:
The holidays are fast approaching. If you love having a real Christmas tree but you don’t want to pay for one, you may be looking to chop one down in a local forest or maybe get one from your own property.
But…is it allowed? In Ontario, the short answer is: it depends.
Individuals are permitted to cut down a tree on crown (public) land so long as you are north of the Mattawa and French rivers. This means no going into the forest to get your own tree in Simcoe County.
You can cut down a tree on your own property unless there is a municipal by-law which prohibits tree cutting.
For example, Barrie by-law 2014-115 requires that no tree be cut down on a “woodlot” (a heavily-treed lot 0.2 hectares or larger) without a permit from the City. To be granted a permit, one must submit an application along with the required fee and a report from a professional justifying the removal.
The rules in Orillia are similar where its tree conservation by-law requires that an individual submit a justification report from a professional and obtain approval from the Director of Planning to cut down any tree on lands greater than 0.5 hectares.
Ramara does not appear to have a tree-cutting by-law so harvesting a tree from private property may be permitted.
In summary, you will have to travel north of the French and Mattawa rivers to get a tree from a public forest. To cut down a tree on your property, first make sure it isn’t prohibited under a municipal by-law. If you’re unsure, the safest bet (aside from calling your lawyer) is to buy a tree from a vendor or go to a tree farm.