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Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – May 2, 2022 – Why do Hydro Companies Need to Remove Vegetation?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Mailbag

Welcome to the Mayor’s Monday Mailbag, an initiative Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor’s Office has launched to share weekly answers to questions from the public we’ve received through our main email inbox at or the Mayor’s social media platforms.

At the end of the month, we’ll publish a roundup of those most pressing questions we’ve received in the weeks prior.

Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – May 2, 2022


“Why is it necessary for hydro companies to cut down trees and remove shrubs/vegetation?”


All utility companies are required by law through the Ontario Energy Board to maintain the area under hydro wires and ensure they are clear of any vegetation — that includes trees, shrubs, etc. This directive arose from the August 14, 2003 blackout that affected the northeastern and midwestern U.S. and Ontario. That blackout was caused by tree branches touching power lines, and further complicated by human error, software issues and equipment failures. It remains the worst blackout in known history.

Important to note, hydro suppliers are exempt of tree bylaws under Section 135 of the Municipal Act as their work falls under the provisions of the Electricity Act. The removal would have been done as a result of conflicts with the transmission lines (very high voltage).

No one wants to lose trees and vegetation — however, if they pose serious risks to power lines, they must be managed.

The Mayor’s Office, as well as Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith’s Office, has recently received communications from residents regarding the vegetation control along the hydro corridor in Burlington’s Ward 1. Counc. Galbraith has had several meetings with Hydro One including a site visit with their staff so they could highlight the necessary work of maintaining the vegetation growth along the Hydro One corridor from Joseph Brant Hospital to the lift bridge.

The clearing of vegetation is necessary to allow a safe zone around the powerlines that will facilitate access for crews and their equipment when maintenance or emergency repairs are needed. Noteworthy, is that Hydro One contributed $5,000 to the City’s Forestry Department for future tree-planting initiatives to support our commitment to expand the City’s tree canopy and support climate goals. Hydro One included these steps within the work performed as to what to expect.

Hydro One shared the below in regards to “What to Expect” in advance of its vegetation control project:

  • In advance of any work starting, they’ve put together a comprehensive community outreach plan to ensure local community associations, and residents are aware of the work and they have opportunities to ask questions. This plan included notice drops, signs and a virtual information meeting was held in November 2021. Please visit where more information is available; and
  • Hydro One will take a considerate approach by staging the removal and trimming of trees and other vegetation to transition the corridor to a sustainable state over the next number of years. That work includes:
    • Removing or trimming mature trees that will pose a risk to the electrical system depending on their location in the corridor
    • Removing trees that are diseased, dying, or have structural defects if they pose a risk to the electrical system
    • Removing fast growing young trees or brush, including certain sections of thick vegetation of this type
  • Hydro One crews use hand tools, such as chainsaws and pruners, to complete their work, and support vehicles will be on site as needed. Herbicides will be considered to be applied to certain stems to prevent regrowth.

Further questions about vegetation management can be directed to HydroOne’s Community Relations at 1-877-345-6799 or

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*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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Media Specialist: John Bkila