Let’s protect our trees while work is being done

Last updated March 31, 2023
Reading time: 2 min

Are you planning to carry out work on your property? Protecting trees, both on your property and on public property, is among our leading concerns. It’s essential to make arrangements to protect your trees before the work gets started.

A tree is more than a trunk

When we think about protecting trees while work is being done, the trunk is the first thing that comes to mind. But a tree is much more than that: The branches and foliage hold significant importance. The root systems roots must not be neglected, either. While they lie beneath the ground, roots remain vulnerable over an area equivalent to the tree’s dripline. 

Mandatory protective measures

Your borough has adopted regulatory measures aimed at protecting trees. Residents must apply these measures when they carry out work on their property. The measures must be implemented before the work is started and maintained until the work is completed. These measures may be summarized as follows:

1. A fence measuring at least 1.5 m in height must be installed beyond the dripline (the ground under the outer circumference of the tree branches) around a tree at risk of being damaged.

2. If it is not possible to install a fence, the entire circumference of the trunk must be protected by planks (2 x 4 inches) placed on rubber bands and firmly kept in place. A geotextile membrane covered with 30 cm of non-compacting material must be placed on the ground beneath the tree’s dripline.

3. The branches susceptible to being damaged must be protected or pruned.

4. The roots in need of pruning must be cleanly trimmed, and exposed roots must be kept moist for the duration of the work.

5. Under no circumstances should a tree be used as a means of support during work.

Inspectors are monitoring the situation

Municipal inspectors can fine anyone who does not comply with these tree protection measures. Moreover, when the trees are on public property, follow-up is carried out before and after the work is completed. When a tree on public property must be removed, or if a tree on public property is severely damaged, the city can claim compensation from the owner of the work site, equivalent to the initial value of the tree. Trees are expensive. It is therefore wiser and more cost-efficient to practice prevention rather than being unable to provide a cure.

Your responsibility

A permit does not absolve you, in any way, from responsibility for the damage that work causes to surrounding trees. You must notify the Division des parcs (by contacting 311) if one or more publicly-owned trees are located less than 15 metres from your work site. An assessment of the trees will be conducted before the work is started and after the work is completed. Where applicable, the city can claim compensation for the lost value of its trees within a period of three years, in accordance with the Civil Code of Québec and the municipal by-laws in force.