Canada’s weirdest laws: climbing a tree in Toronto is illegal

Unlike most of the weird laws we write about, this law is definitely enforced. (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
Unlike most of the weird laws we write about, this law is definitely enforced. (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Watch out for that tree!”

This phrase doesn’t just apply to George of the Jungle but also Torontonians.

Turns out the city of Toronto, Ont., has a municipal bylaw that forbids people from climbing trees in parks and lays out that “unless authorized by permit, [no person shall] climb, move or remove the whole or any part of a tree, rock, boulder, rock face or remove soil, sand or wood”.

Unlike most of the weird laws writes about, this law is definitely enforced. In 2013 a tree-climbing enthusiast, was lounging in a tree at Bellevue Square Park when he was told by a police officer to get off the tree. Unfortunately, the incident culminated in an alleged assault of the man but also earned him a $365 ticket for climbing a tree without a permit.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: Selling Batman, Superman comics is illegal

The penalty for a person, who is found to have violated the municipal bylaw-forbidding tree climbing in a Toronto park, is a minimum fine of $300.

Not every municipality in Ontario has a ban on tree climbing though. In St. Thomas, Ont., the city has an annual tree climbing championship at Pinafore Park.

What is behind the prohibition of the recreational climbing of trees given some see it as a legitimate physical activity?

It’s for the protection and preservation of Toronto trees as the parks bylaw has an entire section devoted to trees and their protection. It should be pointed out that tree climbing can be hazardous to humans as well.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: it’s illegal to scare the queen

If you weren’t aware that you cannot climb a tree in a Toronto park, now you know. So the next time you have the urge to be like Tarzan or George of the Jungle, remember that you need to get a permit from the city before you can ever put your foot on that tree otherwise you will be paying a steep fine.
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