Hydro One Clear Cutting Mature Trees in #Guelph?

Late Friday many residents received notices from Hydro One informing them of the removal of many many trees in the next couple of weeks. 

My phone, email & social media feeds lit up!

I don’t blame them one bit for contacting me. I’d be upset too. They just didn’t know what to do especially after they saw a statement that our city was “supportive” of the actions about to be taken. 

I want the people who will be affected to know that I will do whatever I can to help on this situation. I am emailing, calling and now meeting with Hydro One representatives on Tuesday. I will fight to not have this clear-cut. I understand the risks of hydro lines and workers safety. Yet if we can collaborate together and meet some common ground on this I am hopeful to see mature trees saved for the enjoyment of all!

Our city staff sent the following email to all of council and myself on Friday that I want to share with you:

Good Afternoon Mayor and Councillors:Hydro One has notified the City and nearby residents that they will be undertaking some vegetation management under their transmission corridor in the area of Water Street and Pacific Place, to the Cedar Street transformer station. This vegetation management will take the form of complete removal and grubbing out of the existing trees and shrubs. This will be a drastic change, as the area is covered with mature or semi-mature trees and shrubs. The largest part of the affected vegetation is on City land in Silvercreek Park, south of the Speed River.
Note that the community notice states the following:

The City of Guelph forestry department is also supportive of our work because it will reduce the large number of invasive species growing in the area and improve safety for trail users.”

More precisely, while the City of Guelph forestry staff accepts that Hydro One has the legislative authority to undertake this work, we have not been asked for our approval or permission, but rather, like other stakeholders, we have been given notice. We recognize some gain in the undertaking; specifically, that the substantial area of mature buckthorn, an invasive exotic, will be replaced eventually by native grassland species. On the other hand, there are existing pockets of native trees and shrubs that we’d be quite happy to keep on the landscape, if that were possible.

Concerns and questions should be directed as Hydro One’s notice suggests:

For additional information, please contact:

Ani Bekmezian, Community Relations Officer

Tel: 1-877-345-6799 or by email at Community.Relations@HydroOne.com

Hoping this information helps.


8 responses to “Hydro One Clear Cutting Mature Trees in #Guelph?”

  1. cd campbell Avatar
    cd campbell

    The “minimal safe distance” on Hydro One’s “vegetation management” web page appears to be 4.5 meters (15 ft). The Hydro One person I spoke with said 50-60 feet clearance was required, while the map of the area in Guelph they plan to clear-cut is much larger than either of those distances. None of this makes a lot of sense, yet Hydro One is permitted to take this heavy-handed, “overkill” approach with many communities in Ontario. Usually it seems to help (a bit) if the community stands up and advocates for its needs. There are news articles available online about Exeter, Burlington, Waterloo, etc. all complaining about Hydro One’s “vegetation management” approach over the past years. Some of these communities have had moderate success in amending Hydro One’s plans. Hydro One likely gave this particular notice late, and included misleading info about the City of Guelph’s support for their plan, specifically in order to avoid a confrontation. This bulldozer approach will never stop if municipalities just acknowledge Hydro One’s “legislative authority” to proceed without regard to the communities affected. Municipalities (individually and as a group) need to start demanding that Hydro One’s scope and power be reduced and insist on legislating more community input. Where is Liz Sandals in all this? Has she taken a stroll through the area and seen the substantial distance some of the doomed trees are from the high voltage lines? It would be great to see concerted action from both our municipal and provincial officials in opposition to this unnecessary destruction of parklands, and reduction of the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Meanwhile, I understand from the Ward 5 councillors that the start date for deforestation has been delayed by one week and a meeting with Hydro One will be set up (details not yet announced).

  2. Bluewater Energy (@BluewaterNRG) Avatar

    Notice was served on Friday, destruction begins on the 19th…10 days notice, 4 of which are weekend days. Hydro One has no intention of discussing this with anyone, but I am willing to put our support forward in whatever capacity we can. Mr. Mayor, do what you can and let me know how we can help!

  3. stephen saines Avatar
    stephen saines

    Be aware of this:

    There’s a very real problem, as I witnessed in Toronto, and adjacent property owners *literally* in tears of rage over what happened:

    They not only cut vastly more than necessary, *they go onto private property also to do it*…with *no notification*. It is in the legislation, I was just giving it a quick perusal, and Hydro One are very quick to point to it, but *it is not absolute*. It needs a court challenge, and there will be a number of orgs who’d gladly join one.

    Again, no-one is against their need to clear growth that is fouling, or has potential to foul, but they slash right up to the edge of the RoW, wild-rose bushes, forsythia, any manner of flowering bushes, blackberries etc. And then they cut on private property too!

    Toronto Council will have records of this, the local councillors affected were involved, but mistakenly believed Hydro One to be omnipotent.

    Quick Google for the Toronto Council outrage shows other cases on the first page of hits:

    Wednesday, May, 22, 2013 – 10:10:53 AM
    Hydro One to remove fewer trees than planned

    By Scott Nixon, Times-Advocate Staff

    SOUTH HURON — Fewer trees than originally thought will be removed as part of Hydro One’s vegetation maintenance program in Exeter.

    South Huron council received an update at its May 13 meeting from Hydro One communications officer Nancy Shaddick on the results of the work of the Joint Tree Advisory Committee, which consisted of Hydro One, municipal staff, councillors and the community. The committee was formed amid concerns expressed from members of the public and council about the numbers of trees flagged by Hydro One to be removed or transplanted during maintenance work.

    Shaddick said as a result of the committee’s work, tree removal numbers have been revised. While previously 66 boulevard trees were to be removed, that number has now been reduced to 44. Sixty trees were originally proposed to be transplanted, but that number is now four trees, although even they may not have to be transplanted.

    Private property removals of 135 trees will continue as planned. […]

    Inside Halton.com Jul 02, 2015

    Hydro One tree clearing frustrates Burlington residents

    A former hydro worker for 30 years, Jerry Proskurnicki lives on Trailwood Drive, near Guelph Line and Upper Middle Road, and backs onto a corridor where trees are marked for removal.

    “Our feeling is if they’re cutting or clearing the lines somewhere in the boonies that’s fine but this is a community with all kinds of beautiful places,” he said.

    “Some of the people next to me, Hydro One is cutting these huge trees that protect their yards for privacy.”

    Craven said he’s been told the city’s arborist, Brian McKelvey, is working with hydro officials “to find those trees that can and should be preserved along the corridor.

    “But (they) also made it clear that this would be an extensive clearing of trees that had the potential of impacting those wires,” he said.

    The utility has confirmed to the Post that it intends to provide the city with a $25,000 grant that can be used towards beautification projects

    Still, Proskurnicki is questioning Hydro One’s implementation of the NERC standards.

    “Yes, they have the right to do it, we understand that, but I think there should be some logic,” he said.

    “Looking at some of the trees that they’re cutting, they’ll never reach that (hydro) line, ever.”


    I suggest reading the comments, my point on flowering bushes is repeated, and the reader response if overwhelmingly clear.

    Time to take a stand, folks!

  4. stephen saines Avatar
    stephen saines

    I was living in Toronto when the same slash and burn occurred along the corridor paralleling the CP Rail west tracks from Scarlett Rd to Islington and beyond. They not only slash and kill every growth possible, they poison the roots so that nothing sprouts again.

    Guelphites should be *very* upset, as you see, they not only delight in devastation, they lie about doing it.

    Technically, the municipality is powerless to stop this under provincial legislation, I’ll dig and post the details later, and reference Toronto’s hopeless outrage, but Guelphites have a situation on their side, if you only band together and get behind this, and I challenge the Mayor to lead the charge on this, I’ll gladly provide what-ever research I can on it: Hydro One is in the middle of a very testy privatization push. The last thing they need is a very awkward PR disaster. Does Guelph have the back-bone to give it? Seems to me that a very prominent cabinet minister represents Guelph at Queen’s Park. And there may also be flaws in Hydro One’s interpretation of the Electricity Act ( http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/98e15 ) on a number of points, not the least that it may fall foul of other utility and environmental regs. I’ll dig on that later. I’m not a lawyer, but I am an angry citizen. There may be some federal regs being impinged by this also. I suggest Hizzoner have the City legal team look into that.

    Meantime, be aware that Hydro One’s armour has chinks in it:

    No-one would object to *reasonable* steps to prevent fouling of high voltage xmssn lines. As with Guelph Hydro’s recent slashcapades, research I’ve presented in the Merc shows them to be reacting *far past what the legislation states is necessary*.

    I will itemize that if challenged. These agencies act like they are unaccountable to anyone. They are, however, accountable under the Law.

    Are you willing to make this an issue, Guelph?

  5. Alison Hunter Avatar
    Alison Hunter

    Mayor Guthrie:

    We live at the end of Water Street and just received this notice tonight. It is very heartening to know that you have a meeting planned with Hydro One to address this issue.

    In my online searches tonight to figure out what exactly is going on, I found the transmission update plan on Hydro One’s Website here. http://guelph.ca/living/construction-projects/hydro-one-transmission-refurbishment-project/

    You will notice that one of their key points is their plan is “restoration of the corridor lands to pre-construction condition.” I’m not sure how this became the plan to “use heavy machinery such as bulldozers and grinders to remove all vegetation,” that is outlined in the notice that we received today. Perhaps you can point out this discrepancy in your meeting on Tuesday.

    Thank you very much,

    Alison Hunter

    1. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      You bet I will!! Thanks for telling me!

  6. Sylvia Thurston Avatar
    Sylvia Thurston

    What can I do about the Buckthorns on the property behind my house ? We cut them straight up from the fence but the berries and seeds still fall on my property and into my gardens . I live at 20 Lockyer Road . Is it possible for SOMEONE WITH AUTHORITY to Notify the house owners behind me and tell them that they SHOULD REMOVE THOSE BUCKTHORNS !!!!!! Sylvia Thurston

    1. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      Hi Sylvia, best option is to first ask neighbour about the issue. If for some reason there’s further issues, property standards through bylaw may be able to advise you on next steps.

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