The aftermath: Ice storm 2013 — cleanup FAQs

Ice storm 2013 hits Vaughan

Vaughan — like much of the GTHA — was hit by a major ice storm just days before Christmas. Joining the list of Canada’s top weather stories, the ice storm caused streets and trees to ice over, resulting in dangerous branches falling onto roads, cars and power lines, and leaving many people without electricity.

The City of Vaughan acted fast, ensuring that a de-icing plan was in place, that warming centres were available for those in need and that residents had access to up-to-the-minute information. The City is grateful to the staff and crews that worked around the clock to ensure residents were safe and in-the-know during the severe weather conditions.

Ice storm aftermath
Now that the ice storm is over, the aftermath remains. A storm of only a few days could mean months for cleanup and restoration. The City has developed and is implementing a plan of action to clean up tree debris.

The plan
The City is currently in phase two of a multi-phase storm cleanup operation. Phase one focused on clearing streets and driveways of debris to make them safe and drivable.

Phase two will take approximately eight weeks and involves clearing debris from curbs, boulevards and sidewalks on a priority basis — this includes trimming broken and hanging branches. Phase two is expected to be complete in the spring of 2014 when snow has melted and the remaining debris can be removed. Forestry crews are working seven days a week on these cleanup operations.


Some areas of Vaughan have faced significant damage and, in some cases, a single street may take several days to clear.

The ice and extreme cold weather have caused some equipment, machine and vehicle failures as well as service disruptions.

Tree debris FAQS
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’ve received regarding storm cleanup:

Q: When will the tree debris be removed?

A: Cleanup operations are taking place throughout January and February. Streets are prioritized based on hazards, blockages and access. These streets are being addressed first. An additional cleanup operation is being scheduled for spring once snow has melted.

Q: My tree was scheduled for maintenance (pruning, removal, etc.). When will it be done?

A: All crews are currently focused on storm cleanup. Regular forestry operations will resume once all cleanup operations are complete. Please remain patient as crews are working hard to return operations to normal as quickly as possible.

Q: My private tree is hazardous and needs to be removed. Do I require a permit?

A: No. Due to the volume of trees that have been damaged on private property, a permit is not required to remove or make safe a hazard tree at this time. However, we ask that you call in at a later date so that staff may record your address, size and number of trees being removed. Information can be sent to or call 905-832-8577 and press 0.

Q: Will the City be assisting with removal/pruning of private trees?

A: Trees on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. Tree maintenance companies are available through the Yellow Pages. However, delays are to be expected as these companies are also working at capacity. We encourage you to request several quotes for any tree maintenance or removal work. Property owners and/or their contractors are responsible for the maintenance removal and disposal of privately owned trees and tree debris. A list of local contractors is provided on the Parks and Forestry webpage.

Q: The city tree adjacent to my property has fallen and damaged my fence/deck/vehicle. What do I do?

A: Claims for property damage (including vehicles) should be submitted to your home/vehicle insurer. If you require assistance, please contact the City of Vaughan’s Clerks Department from Monday to Friday, 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 905-832-8504.

Q: When will my tree be replaced?

A: Tree replacements will take place in 2015 — more details to follow.

Q: Will the City pick up private tree debris?

A: Cleanup operations will be taking place throughout January and February. Streets are prioritized and addressed based on hazards, blockages and access. An additional cleanup operation is scheduled for spring once all snow has melted. We ask that you keep small branches/debris on your property until crews have been able to complete the initial street and boulevard cleanup. You can then bring these to the boulevard for pickup.

If you have large branches that you are unable to cut up or contain on your property, you may place these on the boulevard for forestry crews to pick up over the next eight weeks. We ask that you do not place these branches directly around city trees that crews need to access, prune or remove. Cleanup operations for public tree branches and debris will commence once all hazard calls have been addressed. We ask that you do not bring private tree debris to the boulevard/curb until the City and contracted staff have completed the initial cleanup.

Fallen branches will not be collected through the municipal Christmas tree collection program. We ask that you not place branches/debris around Christmas trees as the contractor will be unable to collect the tree. Further information on Christmas tree collection is available on the Public Works webpage.

For any calls related to hydro or power lines:

Contact PowerStream‘s power outage line at 1-877-777-3810.

For any calls related to Regional trees:

Trees located on York Region roads (i.e. major arterials) are the responsibility of the region. Tree calls for York Region can be made to 1-877-464-9675.

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