Can I Cut Down My Own Christmas Tree?

  • January 10, 2023
  • Sarah Hahn, Barriston LLP

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.Map of Ontario with line just south of North Bay, indicating 'Yes' above the line and 'No' below the line vis a vis question posed in title

Individuals are permitted to cut down a tree on crown (public) land so long as they are north of the Mattawa and French Rivers. This means no going into the forest to get your own tree in Simcoe County or the GTA.

A person can cut down a tree on their own property unless there is a regional or municipal by-law which prohibits tree cutting, or conservation rules against it.

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: 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.

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. 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.

Happy holidays!


A version of this article originally appeared in Barriston Law’s Barriston Briefs:

Any article or other information or content expressed or made available in this Section is that of the respective author(s) and not of the OBA.