Residents living along the Island Highway in and around the museum want unsightly power lines to be buried, according to Coun. Larry Samson.
And at Tuesday’s council meeting, Samson asked city staff to investigate the possibility of undergrounding those transmission lines.
Samson said storm sewer infrastructure and other underground work has already been done in the area and now he wants the city to look into moving the power lines from Hidden Harbour to the Maritime Heritage Centre, and from the 4th Avenue right-of-way to the north side of 5th Ave., moved below ground.
“It’s got sidewalks side to side, it’s got curbs unlike all the areas south of Hidden Harbour so it may be unworkable but I would like to have that information,” Samson said. “I know some of the residents all along there are also keen on having the transmission lines underground.”
Samson said if the project proves too expensive for the city to undertake on its own, he’d like to see the city explore other options such as a possible cost-sharing agreement with the neighbours or BC Hydro.
“I’d just like to get some feedback from staff in a report and see if it is feasible; just to look at different options,” Samson said. “I looked at the 4th Ave. right-of-way and I think that’s the museum and that’s one of our treasures, our jewels, and when you look at the museum, when you look out over Sequoia Park, I think the transmission lines we see definitely should be buried in that location.”
Adams joked that a cost-sharing agreement with nearby property owners could put the city in a conflict of interest.
“I guess if you’re looking at cost sharing with the neighbours, and the museum’s ours, we’d be negotiating with ourselves,” Adams cracked.
The city though, through its Sustainable Official Community Plan, has slowly been attempting to move transmission lines underground through new development. In certain areas of the city, developers are required through a bylaw to pay to bury the lines along the chunk of development they’re developing in order to set the stage for other developments coming along to do the same.
The bylaw is aimed at putting the costs on the developer, as opposed to the taxpayer, for infrastructure improvements associated with the development. The funds paid by the developer then go into a city account set aside for major infrastructure projects.
Council has in the past, however, waived the requirement as developers have come to council asking for exemptions as they’ve said the cost to underground the lines is too high and, in some cases, makes their project no longer feasible.
The most recent case was last year when the owner of Dairy Queen said he discovered at the building permit stage for the new Dogwood restaurant that he was required to pay to re-locate overhead services underground, a project he said would cost around $125,000. Council in the end, made the decision to grant an exemption to Dairy Queen so that the restaurant, which is currently under construction, would proceed.