High-voltage lines will run on St. Davids

Port tells residents it would cost $10M to reroute hydro wires

RESIDENTS in Moodyville are not welcoming the news that Port Metro Vancouver and BC Hydro are set to install high-voltage transmission lines down St. Davids Avenue.

The port confirmed what residents had feared at a special meeting held on Wednesday night after delaying the project for several weeks. In the interim, it investigated other options for providing electrical servicing to the port as the Low Level Road expansion project proceeds.

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"Essentially we are proceeding with the power lines down the St. Davids corridor and we explained to the community that their preferred option . . . is not feasible at this time within the project constraints, mainly budget," said Justin Pedley, PMV's director of trade areas.

Running the lines from the west along port property would add $10 million to the $101million cost for the project.

The city agreed to the LLR project without ever hearing about the port's plans for St. Davids. The lack of public consultation has been the cause of tremendous angst in the community said Moodyville resident Amanda Nichol.

"They started off trying to stick it to the residents, and they're continuing to stick it to the residents at every turn," she said.

The revelation that cost is the deciding factor is particularly frustrating, given that residents were previously told that it was technically not possible and that the port and its tenants stand to earn billions more with the Low Level Road project and pending terminal expansions.

"You have how many tenants down there that, together, pull in multi-billion-dollar profits, every single year? $10 million to those people is nothing. This is a big deal to (Moodyville) people," Nichol said.

That comment came up several times at Wednesday's meeting, Pedley said, but the city and its residents are already getting substantial benefits from the Low Level Road expansion, and no further compensation should be needed.

"We want to reiterate that we're completing the Spirit Trail. We're stabilizing the existing slope. This is a longstanding risk for the city, we're improving safety and access for all users of Low Level Road, there's some environmental benefits and reduced (train) whistling," Pedley said. "The port feels that there's already approximately $20-million in benefits to the city if you don't include the new and improved road."

Even if the port opted for the west option, the St. Davids one would still be needed over the short term.

As for the lack of consultation, Pedley said PMV has done "more than enough."

"We believe that we've followed the process for a linear project to the best of our ability and that we believe we've consulted with the city, city staff and community as best we can throughout the two or three years of design development for this project, recognizing that we can't consult on every piece at every time that the community expects," he said.

One of the main grievances with the new transmissions lines, aside from the taller poles, is the potential adverse health effects, but that is based on misinformation according to Pedley. Sixty-nine-Kilovolt lines already traverse residential neighbourhoods around the Lower Mainland.

"It's not an unsafe installation by any means, and it's well, well, well below what the World Health Organization would consider unsafe for the public," he said.

Survey work for the month-long project is expected to begin Tuesday.

brichter@nsnews.com

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