City lobbies port on hydro wires

CITY of North Vancouver council is hoping it can persuade Port Metro Vancouver to do right by Moodyville residents and find a new route for its high-voltage transmission lines on the eve of a fateful decision by the port.

Council passed a motion Monday night to send a letter to Port Metro Vancouver carrying the message that the city does not accept the proposed routing of 69-kilovolt hydro wires down St. Davids Avenue, and that council would prefer the port keep its energy infrastructure on port property.

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PMV's project team has been reviewing two other options since the community met with port staff, BC Hydro and city staff last week, including the preferred possibility of running needed transmission lines from a substation at the foot of St. Georges Avenue, east along PMV property to Richardson International.

Richardson plans to expand

its operation, a fact that only came to light a month after council approved the controversial Low Level Road project in a split-vote last summer.

PMV is expected to present a report to its executives on Wednesday and report back to the city and the community post-haste.

In his statements from the council table, Mayor Darrell Mussatto expressed sympathy for the neighbourhood, optimism for a workable solution and the unpleasant reality of the situation.

"The neighbourhood is quite sensitive. They've gone through a lot. They've gone through the rezoning and the changes for the Low Level Road. There's been some vegetation removed," he said.

"I'll be very clear. (PMV doesn't) have to listen to us. It's frustrating for you and it's frustrating for us. But the way the legislation is, BC Hydro trumps us, Port Metro Vancouver trumps us, and all we can do is let them know how upset we are. . . . Hopefully they're listening. I think it will actually restore a little bit of faith in the neighbourhood that they do make changes and that the port is listening and they do care about the people in the community, and by doing the right thing, they can demonstrate that."

Coun Pam Bookham, who introduced the motion, stressed the importance of taking a stand on behalf of the beleaguered residents.

"There's a time to be diplomatic and there's a time to take a strong stance in support of community. That's what's been lacking here," she said before recounting the frustrating process council and city residents went through when approving the Low Level Road project.

The city was forced into making the decision under threat of a loss of federal funding while there was still a "huge amount of missing information" that council had requested from PMV.

"It's no wonder that some of us on council feel extremely angry and it reflects the anger that we hear from our community that is undergoing extremely negative changes, wondering about the value of their homes, wondering about whether they can live with the changes. It's time to stand up. It's time to take the gloves off," Bookham said.

Council passed the motion 5-0, with Couns. Don Bell and Rod Clark absent from the meeting.

The city is also hiring an electrical engineer to offer an independent second opinion on the electrical servicing snafu.

Outside the meeting, a still-distraught group of Moodyville neighbours said it was good to see council take a unified stance when dealing with PMV, but now it must also back up its words with action.

"It's not as strongly worded as I would have liked but it was addressed, it was discussed and there was a motion, so I'm happy about that," said Amanda Nichol, a First Street resident. "But I would have liked them to say 'No, we will do whatever is in our power to stop this."

The city already has 69-kilovolt transmission lines running throughout various corridors in residential neighbourhoods, including Third and Fourth streets, but the lingering worry over health risks from the electromagnetic fields that surround them is too much to passively accept for some.

"You can think what you want about EMF (electromagnetic field) and the health effects of them or living under power lines. Even if the studies aren't conclusive, they're conclusive enough for me," said Julie Anderson, whose bedroom is just 8.5 metres from where the transmission lines would run.

brichter@nsnews.com

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