The recent ice storm in the Toronto area resulted in much
damage, often caused by falling trees or branches. Following find
an introduction to legal issues concerning trees in urban areas:
What Law Applies To Trees?
Trees are subject to the common law concerning property and
nuisance as interpreted by court decisions and modified by
provincial statutes such as the Forestry Act and municipal by-laws
such as Toronto's Tree Bylaw.
Who Owns The Tree?
The majority of the trees in the Toronto Region are privately
owned. A recent case held that if any part of the trunk, even below
grade, straddles 2 properties, the tree is owned by both parties.
In the City of Toronto, about 40% of all trees are publically
owned, located in parks and along road allowances.
Is A Private Owner Liable For Tree Damage To A Neighbour?
Private owners are generally not liable for damages to
neighbouring properties resulting from storm damage to their trees,
as long as they had no reason to believe that their trees were
healthy and not dying or diseased. "A property owner cannot be
held responsible for damage resulting from a limb or tree falling
simply on the basis that the limb or tree fell". However,
courts have found private owners liable if they were warned by
their neighbours about the unhealthy state of their trees.
Damage From Encroaching Tree Roots
Courts have sometimes awarded damages resulting from the effects
of encroaching tree roots on walls and driveways. However, in a
recent Ottawa case, the court noted the environmental benefits of
trees as indicated by municipal tree by-laws, and did not find
liability for damage to a swimming pool without the neighbour
providing further evidence of the practicality of installing a root
barrier and lack of foreseeability of damage.
Is A Public Agency Liable?
Municipalities or hydro distributors have generally not been
liable where there were no visible signs of decay, or the public
agency inspected trees regularly. Courts have held a municipality
to a lower standard than a private owner, since it was responsible
for the inspection of many more trees than a private owner.
However, municipalities have been found responsible where there
were numerous indicators that the tree was unhealthy, or its
diseased state could have been discovered by a proper
Will Insurance Pay For The Damage Caused By Trees?
Physical damage to homes or land caused by trees is sometimes
covered by home insurance policies, subject to deductible clauses.
Damage to vehicles caused by falling trees may be covered by auto
insurance if the vehicle owner has purchased comprehensive or
all-perils coverage. The cost of cleaning up and removing a fallen
tree or limbs, or the cost of alternate accommodation will not be
covered by most policies. However, municipal councils may be
prepared to assist some homeowners with removal costs following the
Mackrell International - Canada - MacDonald Sager
Manis LLP is a full service business law firm in Toronto, Ontario
and a member of Mackrell International. Mackrell International -
Canada is comprised of four independent law firms in Alberta,
British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Each firm is regionally based
and well-connected in our communities, an advantage shared with our
clients. With close relations amongst our Canadian member firms, we
are committed to working with clients who have legal needs in
multiple jurisdictions within Canada.
This article is intended to be an overview and is for
informational purposes only.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).