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Urban Forestry

The Urban Forest is in your hands. A healthy city needs a strong green infrastructure, and more than 75% of the land in Barrie is privately owned; therefore, homeowners play a vital role in sustaining our green city.

Street Trees

The City is committed to beautifying and improving the urban environment through the introduction of trees on municipal boulevards. All new subdivisions are required to be planted by the subdivision developer. The City will not reimburse residents for any payments made to the developer for boulevard/street trees.

The City provides replacement trees in older areas of Barrie, provided the location conforms with minimum setback standards and is clear of utilities. To request a street tree, please call 705-726-4242. Trees will be planted during the annual tree planting contract in the spring and/or fall, as budgets permit.

Residents are encouraged to care for their new boulevard tree by providing adequate watering and fertilizing. To remain healthy, the new tree will require some help from the homeowner:


Please water the tree once a week during the summer months or during dry periods by letting the hose dribble slowly at the base of the tree for an hour.


Protect your tree by avoiding striking the bark with your lawnmowers or weedeater as this will girdle the tree and lead to its death.


Keep all weed killers away from the tree and do not fertilize the tree for the first two years. Your new tree may experience some shock and appear under stress for the first few months.

If, in spite of following the above directions, the tree's health appears to be declining, contact Service Barrie at 705-726-4242.

Street Tree Pruning Program

The City is responsible for the maintenance of trees located on the City-owned road right-of-way (between curb and private property line). Each year the Forestry Section undertakes a Street Tree Pruning Program, pruning approximately 3500 street trees as part of maintenance requirements for clearance from streets, lights, signs, sidewalks, lawns, as well as to remove crowded branches, structurally weak branches, dead branches, etc. The primary purpose of the program is tree health and public safety.

The City contracts out the pruning of streets within three areas of the City. The tree pruning runs May through October. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced staff levels in 2020, no proactive pruning will take place.

Street Tree Pruning FAQs
How often is street tree pruning required?

Street tree pruning is required approximately every 7–10 years.

Who undertakes the pruning?

Street tree pruning is completed by a qualified forestry crew.

Why do the trees need to be pruned?

Street trees are pruned for:

  • safety concerns
  • maintenance of legislated clearances
  • tree health & vitality
  • disease control
What is involved in pruning?

Standard tree pruning involves:

  1. removing all dead, dying, diseased, decayed, interfering, noticeably weak or crowded branches.
  2. crown raising, the removal of lower branches and stem suckers as follows:
    a. 4 metres over curb and street
    b. 2.5 metres over sidewalk and lawn
    c. All other necessary clearance from driveways, signs, lights and other fixed objects or structures.
  3. clearing stop signs to a minimum of 25 metres clear view.
  4. clearing traffic signals to a minimum 25 metres clear view.
  5. reporting any other defects to the Forestry Coordinator for inspection and action.

Individual tree pruning requirements may include:

  • removal of dead branches
  • clearance for pedestrian/vehicle traffic
  • visibility clearance for stop signs, traffic signals
  • clearance from buildings
  • structural training
  • crown thinning for tree health/vigour and improve sunlight penetration
  • crown balance to correct for storm damage

If, during the tree pruning, a tree is found to be more than 50% dead; is diseased; or is deemed to be structurally unsound it will be scheduled for complete removal.

Parkland Native Trees

Residents may purchase a native tree to be planted by the City upon approval from the Parks & Forestry Department. Learn more.

Top 10 Things you can do for Your Trees

Residents can take an active role in preserving our urban forest through new tree planting and maintenance of existing trees and plants on their property.

  1. Ensure adequate above and below ground growing space for tree canopy and roots.
  2. Protect trees from physical damage from lawn mowers, weed wackers, dogs, and construction activity.
  3. Never cut the main leader (center branch at the top).
  4. Avoid tying, nailing or attaching anything to the trunk of the tree.
  5. Budget for tree care as you would your lawn and garden.
  6. Water and apply mulch 2–3” deep (but not more) around your tree to retain moisture and humus in the soil.
  7. Never pile rocks, mound soil or build structures around the tree that could cause harm to the roots (by preventing water and oxygen from reaching the roots).
  8. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as necessary.
  9. Use organic tree and lawn care practices or engage the services or a professional who practices organic lawn and tree care.
  10. Plant native species of trees, shrubs and perennials.

Tree Removals (Private Property)

The City regulates private property tree removals when the tree is part of a woodlot as defined in the Tree Preservation By-law 2014-1150. This by-law's in place to regulate the injuring or destruction of trees within woodlots and only applies to trees that are part of a woodlot (forested area) of ½ acre in size or larger. The typical residential lot does not require a tree removal permit to remove a tree from the property, unless it is part of a development application (e.g. subdivision).

Tree Removal FAQs
When do I need a tree removal permit?

If you are planning to remove or cause injury to one or more trees that are part of a woodlot, you will require a Tree Removal Permit from the City of Barrie. 

When is a tree removal permit NOT required?

If an arborist has deemed the tree on your property to be dead or hazardous, you would not require a tree removal permit to remove (or prune) it.  Normal property maintenance on residential lots in the City of Barrie does not require a tree removal permit. 

However, if you are planning to do any work that requires a building permit and will result in the removal of trees (i.e. building a deck or putting in a pool) and you are unsure it is best to contact the Service Barrie (705-726-4242) to confirm if you will need a tree removal permit. 

How can I find out if my property has a woodlot on it?

Visit Discover Barrie,, and under "Map Content" select “Regulated Woodlots” layer, then zoom to your property. 

If I need a Tree Removal Permit, what is the process to get one?

The process for obtaining a Tree Removal Permit is described within the Tree Protection Manual. There are local professional companies (Landscape Architects and Professional Foresters) who are experienced at the required information and application process who can prepare a tree removal permit application.

Pest Preparedness

Two serious threats to the health of our urban forests have been monitored by staff since 2004: the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) and the Asian Long-horned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis). No natural predators or control agents are known to control the populations of these two insects.

The City is currently in a zone under regulation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for Swede Midge (Contarinia nasturtii), Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica), Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) and the Pine Shoot Beetle (Tomicus piniperda). While they are currently present within City limits, natural predators and/or control agents are keeping the populations of these non-native insects in check.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

The EAB attacks and kills all species of white, green and red ash trees (Fraxinus). Since its discovery near Detroit in 2002, the EAB has killed tens of millions of ash trees in southwestern Ontario, Michigan and surrounding states. It poses a major economic and environmental threat to urban and forested areas.

In 2006, City staff instituted a moratorium on planting Ash species on public lands in Barrie and recommended that land developers and consultants omit ash from planting on private property. As of April 1 2014, the County of Simcoe (including Barrie) has been included in the zone under regulation for EAB. Signs and symptoms of EAB-infested ash trees:

  • premature yellowing of leaves
  • dead branches
  • thinning crown
  • branches sprouting from the base of the tree
  • bark cracks
  • a “zig-zag” path under dead portions of bark, and
  • D-shaped holes from where new adults exit the tree.

If a City tree exhibits these signs, please report to Service Barrie: 705-726-4242. If you're concerned that your private tree is infested, staff suggest calling a certified arborist to have it inspected. There are several local tree companies with certified, licensed and insured arborists who can assess your trees and provide recommendations on the best course of action.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Program

Phase 1: 2012 until EAB is discovered in Barrie

a) Identify specimen ash trees for treatment

b) Begin systematic removal and replacement of young ash trees on boulevards

c) Proactive planting in areas of high ash component

d) Public education on EAB

Phase 2: Post Discovery of EAB in Barrie

e) Begin bi-annual treatment of specimen ash

f) Systematic removals to include mature ash where integration with other programs create efficiencies (e.g. block pruning program)

g) Removal of all ash trees on a street or within a park where EAB has been discovered.

On March 26, 2012, after review of Staff Report re Pest Preparedness, Council adopted the EAB Program, a 2-phase project expected to last 15 years. In August 2014, EAB was confirmed within several locations in Barrie. As a result, forestry staff commenced Phase 2 of the EAB Program.

Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALHB)

ALHB is native to China and is considered a major pest of hardwood trees in many parts of the country. Based on the Chinese experience with this insect and the recent infestations in the United States and Vaughan, this beetle would survive and reproduce in the hardwood forests of southern Canada.

A variety of hardwood trees serve as hosts to ALHB. In Asia, the primary hosts are maple (Acer), poplar (Populus) and willow (Salix). Other hosts include; horse chestnut (Aesculus), birch (Betula), elm (Ulmus), sweet-gum (Liquidambar), ash (Fraxinus), mountain ash (Sorbus), mulberry (Morus), plum (Prunus), pear (Pyrus), black locust (Robinia), silk tree (Albizia), hackberry (Celtis), and sycamore (Platanus). All of these genera represent over 1,000 vulnerable species; the first five genera have been found to support reproducing populations in New York and Vaughan.

The ALHB infestation is considered “under control” within the Vaughan/Toronto Regulated Area, and the CFIA are monitoring the area for any further signs of its presence. However, ALHB was found in Mississauga in September 2013, prompting the CFIA to begin the process of starting an eradication program for that population. City staff continue to monitor the CFIA information provided on this pest.

Gypsy Moth

City staff monitor the populations of Gypsy Moth along with our municipal and provincial partners. Should populations reach threshold levels that risk permanent damage to tree populations in Barrie we will consider active management options. Staff recommend property owners adopt these landscape maintenance activities to reduce the impact to their own trees. Related links: Gypsy Moth (County of Simcoe); Gypsy Moth (Province of Ontario).

Naturalization Projects

Throughout Barrie’s park systems, signs have been placed to identify specific areas where plant communities are being encouraged to revert back to their native state. Hardy native plants have adapted to local climatic conditions over thousands of years and provide essential food and shelter to urban wildlife, such as songbirds and butterflies. To participate in local naturalization planting projects, watch for newspaper ads calling for volunteers.

Fencing Policy

Chain link fencing is installed between residential areas and natural areas to prevent private encroachments, pets from disturbing wildlife, and yard waste dumping (injurious to the roots of trees and plants and strictly prohibited). Residents are to use the City's yard waste curbside collection service. Residents are not permitted to damage City property by installing gates for personal access. Please report any damaged fencing to the Engineering department: 705-739-4207.

Prevent Forest Fires

Many forest fires occur in areas called urban interface zones where homes, buildings, and cottages are built into surrounding natural forested areas. These large natural areas are always at risk for forest fires and can be inaccessible to emergency vehicles and crews. Lighting fires within natural areas is strictly prohibited at ALL times. If you see a fire, CALL 911 immediately. Forest Fires Safety Information

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a naturally occurring plant in Barrie’s parks and along trails. The plant produces an oil that can remain active for several years; even handling dead leaves can cause a reaction. Oil transferred from the plant to other objects (such as pet fur) can also cause a rash if it comes into contact with skin. Poison ivy generally has three leaves and a red stem; contact with the plant can be avoided by staying on established trails and watching for it. If poison ivy is found encroaching a trail, park, or other frequently used location, please report it to Service Barrie at 705-726-4242 or


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