Bridlewood Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) InformationService

History of the Bridlewood Hydro Line Struggle

BY: Richard W. Woodley Bridlewood Residents Hydro Line Committee
May/September 1984

Ontario Hydro states at public information meetings that the existing corridor through Bridlewood was ruled out for the new 500 kV lines because it was too narrow and did not meet their guidelines for community impact. Ontario Hydro's environmental assessment study stated the corridor width requirement for 500 kV lines to be between 100-130 metres (the Bridlewood corridor is 80 metres wide).

November 20, 1984

Joint Board (Ontario Municipal Board and Ontario Environmental Assessment Board) hearings begin.

November 4, 1985

Joint Board chooses the existing Bridlewood corridor for the new 500 kV lines. This decision contradicts all the expert evidence presented at the hearings, including that of Ontario Hydro. Public health concerns were barely touched. The location of the Bridlewood school was not considered by the Board because it was not built yet.

May 9, 1986

Appeal of Joint Board decision by City of Kanata to Ontario Cabinet is denied.

September 26, 1986

Ottawa Citizen carries an article by April Lindgren on health effects of electromagnetic radiation. Lynn Barrett and Judy Hunter, along with other concerned residents, form the Bridlewood Residents Hydro Line Committee (BRHLC). Research into health effects and lobbying campaign begins.

December 1986

City of Kanata and Ontario Hydro fail to reach agreement on mitigating measures as required by previous Joint Board decision. On December 15, 1986 the Joint Board holds a one and a half hour hearing on Ontario Hydro's proposed mitigating measures. The BRHLC is not given notice or adequate time to prepare for the hearing. They are denied full standing and not allowed to call witnesses or cross- examine Ontario Hydro's witnesses.

January 1987

BRHLC engages legal counsel and announces it will seek a judicial review of the routing decision. On January 20, 1987 200 Bridlewood residents protest outside the official opening of the new Ottawa Court House by Ontario Premier Peterson.

March 1987

Joint Board accepts Ontario Hydro's proposed mitigating measures in a March 9, 1987 decision. On March 31, 1987 the BRHLC appeals the Joint Board decision to the Ontario Cabinet.

April 1987

BRHLC survey finds that if the lines are built as planned 34% of parents would definitely not send their children to the new school and another 16% would probably not.

June 4, 1987

Ontario Hydro starts construction in the Bridlewood corridor and are met by mothers and children who physically prevent construction from continuing. Later that day, in the Ontario Legislature, the Energy Minister orders Hydro to stop construction until the BRHLC appeal is decided on by Cabinet.

July 8, 1987

The results of the New York Power Lines Project are released, including a study linking electromagnetic fields from power lines to childhood leukemia and brain cancer.

December 1987

On December 8, 1987 the Ontario Cabinet announces that it had denied the BRHLC appeal on November 26, 1987. On December 10, 1987 Ontario Hydro begins construction and is met by protesters who disrupt gravel deliveries for several days. On December 20, 1987 the Bridlewood struggle is featured on the CTV television program W5.

March 1988

On March 7, 1988 the Carleton Board of Education announces that it will undertake its own study into the health risks from electro- magnetic radiation at the Bridlewood school. A March 1988 BRHLC survey finds that if the lines are built as planned 40% of parents would definitely not send their children to the new school and another 30% would probably not.

May 9, 1988

Ontario Hydro states in a letter to the community that the magnetic field strength at the edge of the right-of-way would be less than 10 milliGauss (mG) under normal everyday conditions.

May 13, 1988

300 residents demonstrate outside the new Bridlewood school while 67% of the students are kept home by their concerned parents.

June 13, 1988

Carleton Board of Education releases the findings from the first phase of its health study which finds that at that time (without the new lines in place) the school is safe.

July, 19, 1988

BRHLC announces it has hired Jeff Cowan of the Toronto law firm of Weir and Foulds (which has successfully fought Ontario Hydro in the past) to represent them in their legal actions.

October 1988

Joint Board agrees to consider a BRHLC request that it hold new hearings and requests written submissions on the matter.

March 1989

CBE issues preliminary report on the Bridlewood school. Magnetic field readings have increased 10 times in and around the school and are at levels associated with childhood cancer and leukemia by the New York Power Lines Project. The readings at the edge of the right-of-way exceed Ontario Hydro's 10 mG forecast of May 9, 1988.

May 1989

BRHLC holds DAY OF CONCERN on May 5, 1989. Over 100 residents demonstrated outside the Bridlewood school while 40% of the students were absent. CBE issues another report which claims there is no health risk to students at the Bridlewood school. BRHLC spokespersons call the report "totally wrong, false inaccurate, untruthful and deceptive".

May/June 1989

The May/June 1989 issue of Intervenor, the Newsletter of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, published an article on hydro lines and health written by Richard W. Woodley of the BRHLC.

October 1989

BRHLC application for judicial review is withdrawn. BRHLC continues to fight for new Joint Board hearings. Lobbying efforts are intensified. BRHLC continues ongoing monitoring of the electromagnetic field levels using its own dosimeter. On October 27, 1989 Ontario Hydro upgrades the voltage on one of the lines from 230 to 500 kV.

January 25, 1990

BRHLC Field Measurement team releases a report, at a public meeting attended by over 100 residents, indicating that magnetic field readings at the Bridlewood school site were up to 27 times higher than readings at the control school in the CBE study (Henry Larson Elementary School). Readings in the school were as high as 14 mG. Ontario Hydro had stated on May 9, 1988 that the magnetic field strengths at the edge of the right-of-way would not exceed 10 mG. Readings above 2 mG have been associated with increased risks of childhood leukemia.

February 20, 1990

BRHLC representatives meet with Ontario Energy Minister Lyn McLeod.

Spring 1990

BRHLC engages in a series of meetings with Ontario Hydro.

April 16, 1990

CBC The Journal broadcasts a documentary on the issue of electromagnetic radiation, including the Bridlewood struggle.

May 14, 1990

CBE issues another report on the Bridlewood school magnetic field readings which states that Bridlewood magnetic field levels are among the highest of the six schools tested. It also states that these conditions occur at other schools, particularly Greenbank/Knoxdale public school in Nepean which borders a 230 kV and 115 kV power line. BRHLC says the report is trying to downplay the potential health risks from the lines. A BRHLC spokesperson states "They are trying to perpetuate the myth that the new lines haven't had an impact on the readings at the school, but they have had a serious impact".

June 20, 1990

BRHLC plans to hold a public meeting to update the community. Ontario Hydro officials have been invited to attend the meeting to explain their position and answer residents questions.


The BRHLC participated in Public Focus's Visions 2020 program by means of a background paper provided by Richard W. Woodley. Visions 2020 is an educational program designed to provide students with the tools that will be needed in their lifetime to understand and take part in the shift towards sustainable development. The program involved thousands of senior secondary school students from across Canada in developing their vision for Canada on various topic areas.

January 1991

BRHLC meets with senior aide to newly elected New Democratic Party Energy Minister Jenny Carter. Also BRHLC begins preparations for Environmental Assessment Board Hearings on Ontario Hydro's Demand/Supply Planning Study. The BRHLC has received intervenor status and funding to present independent evidence on the EMF issue before the Board.

May 1992

Kanata councillor Marriane Wilkinson raised the issue of EMFs at City Council stating that the health concerns should be taken into consideration in planning and zoning decisions and that staff should look further into the issue.

June 1992

BRHLC makes a deputation to a special meeting of the Ontario Hydro Board of Directors held in Ottawa on June 7, 1992. On June 16, 1992 the BRHLC holds a public information meeting at the Bridlewood school to bring update the community on the EMF issue and the committee's activities.

September 1992

Carleton Board of Education makes a conscious decision to locate new portables at the school site as far away from the hydro corridor as possible

Fall 1992

Swedish study confirms findings of New York Power Lines Project study linking electromagnetic fields from power lines to childhood leukemia.

Winter 1992

Ontario Hydro upgrades lines to full operating power with 1-230 kV line and 2-500 kV lines.

March 1993

BRHLC begins series of EMF measurements at Bridlewood school site to determine if a continuous monitoring program is warranted. BRHLC continues preparations for Ontario Hydro environmental assessment panel. Environmental Assessment Board has been replaced with an advisory panel due to Ontario Hydro's withdrawal of its Demand/Supply Plan. In March 1993 the BRHLC also joined the National EMR Alliance composed of public interest groups from across North America concerned about the health effects of electromagnetic fields.

May 1993

BRHLC joins the National Capital Freenet (NCF) as an information provider. The committee has established a section within the environment section of the Freenet providing information files and a discussion group on electromagnetic fields and health. This also provides the BRHLC with access to Internet e-mail and the ability to communicate internationally at no cost and distribute information throughout the world. Since then we have received numerous requests for information from all over the world.


The BRHLC's information files on the National Capital Freenet (NCF) evolve into the Bridlewood Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Information Service, a full NCF FreePages site on the World Wide Web which is maintained by Richard W. Woodley.