What’s with the clearcutting near the hydro corridor?

Location of land clearing near hydro corridor.
Location of land clearing near hydro corridor.

I’ve received a number of calls and emails from residents concerned about clear cutting of land adjacent the hydro corridor running south from Graham’s Lane from Stephenson behind Hammond and Hager. (See attached aerial photo). This came as much a surprise to me as to residents.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

CN owned the land. They recently sold the land to a private individual. The individual said he is doing some “clean up” of the area. As we have no private tree bylaw, the city cannot stop any resident from cutting trees on their private land. (This is something I raised last term of council; a proposed bylaw to prevent clear cutting was defeated 4-3; I hope to reintroduce something this term of council).

The land is zoned “S” for utility. As such it cannot be developed. If the purchaser of the land was hoping to add this land to any land they might own abutting the hydro corridor, a rezoning would be required. A rezoning is a public process and requires a council vote.

I will monitor what happens here and let residents know if there is any development activity here. Residents have reported  significant activity and we asked bylaw officers to look into what was happening. If the site is being altered (fill added/removed, or grading changes) a permit is required.

Our bylaw staff reported that no bylaws are being broken, but we will continue to watch what is happening.

If you have further questions, please join us at the Thorpe neighbourhood public meeting May 26, 7 p.m., Art Gallery of Burlington. More details are available here:

Thorpe neighbourhood meeting May 26

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. Hi Cheryl:
    Are you Shure there was no reason to remove the trees? Perhaps they simply did not want them.
    As for the landscaping decisions that would also be a matter of choice.
    Burlington has a property standards bylaw, we certainly don’t need another to determine what can and cannot be done on private property.

  2. We really need a tree bylaw in Burlington. This whole thing makes me sick. My brother and his wife live in Etobicoke and they have a very strong tree bylaw in place.
    The people who moved in next door to me cut down two fully mature trees in their backyard. There was no reason for this–they have not planted anything in their place–the whole backyard looks like a vacant lot-no plants-no bushes and dead grass. The front is not much better–this on a lovely old court where everyone else takes great care of their property. This was done at least 8 years ago. It takes away from the whole neighbourhood. If there had been a bylaw in place at least the trees would have added to the value of the property.

  3. My home also backs onto this path. The squirrels, snakes, bunnies and birds that have lost their homes are very distressed. I am hoping they will be replanting something, not just paving as this is one of the few places for me to walk my rescue doggy that is scared of bikes skateboards strollers joggers and pretty much anything with wheels. I see they installed weeping tile so maybe they will just be replanting? Do we know who the owner is? Has anyone spoken to the guys working out there?

  4. As one of the home owners that backs on to the hydro path, I am very concerned with what is planed for the property Burlington hydro sold off. Do
    we know who bought it? or why it was clear cut?, why is it being flattened? or when I can stop waking up to the sounds of construction equipment?
    Please do some digging and put all of our minds at ease, and if a meeting is going to happen about this peace of land let us all know so we can protect our neighborhood.

  5. Very interesting. I’m taking part in a Jane’s Walk this afternoon looking at the potential for this hydro corridor to provide a multi-use path connecting Downtown with Fairview Dr. and potentially even as far as the Burlington GO station if the city and railway can find the will to co-operate. How fantastic it would be to have an active transportation link between Downtown and the main transit hub!

    There’s some hydro equipment just south of Stephenson/Graham’s Lane surrounded by a fence, which means that either the fence would have to be moved in, or any path would have to encroach on the former railway land, which was just sold off by CN. Do you know if the City was approached regarding this property (or even expressed interest)? This connection is shown in the Trails Master Plan which, I understand has been completed in draft but not yet submitted to Council.

  6. As you say the owner has the option to remove the trees and the zoning has been in place for many years. It should not be a surprise to the residence in the area.
    Concluding a tree bylaw is required is a stretch.
    Perhaps you could explain the concerns that were raised with the clear cutting on this corridor.

    • John, In short many people (myself included) believe trees add value to our community, our health, clean CO2, shade, provide habitat homes, and trees often outlast a particular owner of a particular piece of land. As they provide community benefits, some type of control of mass clearing of health trees should be implemented. The hydro corridor is bare where trees ones stood.

      • I would certainly agree with the benefits trees provide.
        Many of the trees we enjoy on private property were planted by the owners when there were none.

        I live in a part of Burlington that is now approaching the sixty year mark. The land was clear cut at the time of building and now has numerous mature and beautiful trees. Over the years the owners nurtured these trees and spent countless hours pruning, fertilizing, watering and yes raking the leaves. The trees that were spared during construction are now all but gone and replaced with those thoughtfully planted by individual owners.

        Clear cutting to facilitate building is not the problem as one drive thru this area will confirm. Trees die and are cut down for many reasons and new ones are planted it just takes time and patience.

        I have considerable time and money invested in the two mature trees on my property. Please don’t tell me or any other owner what should or shouldn’t be done with them.

  7. Thanks Marianne for the update. I’m having a REAL PROBLEM with a truculent, stubborn, neighbour and my insurance company. As you know, I recently purchased a Kohler generator ( 18,000 watt capacity ) and had it installed last December. I was able, with Burlington Hydro assistance, to observe what ‘other obstacles’ might prevent me from becoming entrenched in a $6,000. deductible insurance claim in the event a tree on the neighboring lot should fall during a freezing rain accumulation and wipe out my new electrical mast at the center of the house rear. I was advised by Burlington Hydro, such an incident has a high probability. Hydro also stated they would not come on site to restore power if the mast was down due to the neighbour’s tree fall.

    I would have to arrange a contract with a local electrician to re-install the mast before Hydro would restore power.

    As I indicated earlier, we are “good to go” from a hook-up and stand-by position to supply four neighbours in the event of an ice storm, transformer failure or general power outage. That represents a total of ten people who would have stand-by electrical support in the event any of the previously described events should occur. I did not include the truculent neighbour in any of my plans.

    I am as concerned about tree canopy as Burlington Hydro, Burlington Green and City Parks. In fact, I’ve noticed all three agencies are working in a complementary fashion with one another.

    In order to re-configure our rear lot to remove the above-ground swimming pool, we had to remove all trees.

    We are now in the position where we will be replacing the trees which were removed. We will be installing two royal maples this summer and additional shrubbery in accordance with our revised plans.

    We have lived at this location since September 15, 1968 and are now quickly approaching a 50-year anniversary.

    That’s why I am hopeful that the City will shortly be in a position to resolve my dilemma. In certain particular situations, City should have the authority to intervene, prescribe, and dictate corrective action in accordance with sound principles. If it becomes necessary that a resident should cut back an existing tree, the City should legislate that by-law.

    Thank you,
    Ever Hopeful
    Charlie Dexter

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