The Regional Municipality Of York


Street Trees

To Tree or not to Tree?

Street trees and plants are a significant benefit to the community. They help shape the character of our cities and towns and contribute to a sense of place.

Street trees and plants are found on Regional roads – main roadways that connect our nine local cities and towns to one another. These roads include Yonge Street, Dufferin Street, Highway 7 and Major Mackenzie.

Recently we asked for your feedback in the form of an online survey to better understand what street trees and plants mean to you. Due to an overwhelming response, the survey is now closed.

Survey results will be shared on this page as well as in the Splash eNewsletter.  Sign up here to receive these quarterly emails on various environmental topics in York Region.

Did you know?

  • Street trees includes trees, shrubs and plants
  • York Region maintains ‘street trees’ on Regional roads (major commuter roads) and your local city or town maintains them on municipal roads (your neighbourhood roads)
  • There are approximately 70,000 ‘street trees’ planted on Regional roads, with more planned in the future
  • To maintain and care for ‘street trees’, it costs approximately $1.7 million each year
  • ‘Street trees’ must be salt and drought tolerant and able to survive the harsh conditions of our climate and Regional roads
  • ‘Street trees’ make up part of the urban forest which include trees planted outside of forested areas

street trees, landscape planters and maintenance

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Regional road and a local municipal road?

Regional roads are typically main arterial roadways that connect our nine local municipalities to one another. They are operated and maintained by The Regional Municipality of York. Each is identified by a numbered Regional road sign. Local roads are operated and maintained by local cities and towns.

Why is York Region asking for input?

To understand what the public expectations and preferences are related to urban forestry along Regional roads. This information will allow the Region to better align our services to meet these expectations.

What kinds of trees and plants are currently used? How are they chosen?

The Region uses a mix of trees and plants that are best suited to survive the harsh conditions of our local climate and Regional roadways. Chosen trees must also meet the constraints of the designated location, such as available space and/or proximity to utilities. Some examples include the Kentucky coffee tree, honey locus and ivory silk lilac trees.

How is it decided what type of tree is planted?

Streetscapes include a variety of tree species, including five types for under hydro wires and trees that are salt and drought-resistant. The Region has lists of top performers based on past performance. Based on these lists and site characteristics, qualified staff determine what will be planted at each location.

Why are there trees planted directly under power/hydro lines?

Each year, York Region plants over 1,500 trees along Regional Roads. Not only do these trees help our streets look beautiful, they provide numerous benefits to residents.  During planting, we are mindful many locations contain overhead power lines.  When overhead power lines are encountered, the Region plants low growing species, such as the Ivory Silk Lilac tree to establish trees on the boulevard while minimizing future conflicts with overhead power lines.

How much is the Region’s budget for tree/plant maintenance?

$1.7 million annually for the maintenance of trees and planters

How many trees are currently growing on York Region roadways?

Approximately 70,000

Who does all the maintenance work on these trees/plants?

Maintenance is mainly completed by contractors under direction from York Region

What are the nests I am seeing in the trees? And are they harmful?

While there are many types of invasive non-native and native caterpillars that can impact trees and shrubs, some York Region residents have been dealing with a higher number of European gypsy moths in localized areas this year.  The caterpillars are the larval stage of what will become a moth as a mature adult. At high numbers, the caterpillars can be a nuisance, with frass (caterpillar droppings) and bits of tree foliage dropped by the feeding caterpillars creating a bit of a mess on decks, patios, and walkways near infested trees.  

In addition, defoliated trees can be unsightly and don’t provide the shade of a full tree canopy. Most healthy trees can withstand one or more years of severe defoliation by gypsy moth.  Trees will put out new leaves in a matter of weeks when the weather is favorable (with periodic rain). As with most insects, their population is very cyclical.  Populations can increase to very high numbers in certain locations for a year or more and then will decline quickly to almost undetectable levels for several years after. 

What is the future plan for plantings on Regional Roads?

York Region staff continue to plan and plant street trees to increase the number of trees along Regional roads and expand the urban forest where possible. Planters are constructed during major road construction projects in consultation with applicable streetscape master plans and following the York Region Designing Great Streets Guidelines

If I want to plant a tree, or need maintenance on an existing tree on my property, who can I contact?

If you would like to plant a tree, you may be eligible for a subsidy from LEAF in partnership with York Region for backyard planting.  Please see for more details.  If you need maintenance to an existing tree on your property you will need to contact a private tree service provider.  Please ensure they are qualified, insured and be sure to consult with your local municipality as there may be local bylaws related to individual trees that may apply.

 Related Resources

street,tree,trees,greening,walking,streetscape,landscape,design,boulevard The Regional Municipality of York en-US To tree, or not to tree? Street Trees Street trees and plants are found on Regional roads – main roadways that connect our nine local cities and towns to one another.

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