Approved by the Vancouver School Board, BC Hydro’s new West End substation* will be sited on the property of Lord Roberts Annex adjacent to Nelson Park, the City’s largest non-waterfront park in downtown Vancouver.
This agreement has eliminated the need for BC Hydro to purchase private property (potentially taking away housing stock from the area), and will result in an out-of-sight underground substation, while providing significant funding to the downtown Vancouver school community.
While the benefits of siting the substation in a central location — and on a Vancouver School Board property — are fairly clear, what is not clear is the future of Nelson Park.
Here’s the latest and greatest: as a result of this siting, BC Hydro has requested permission from the Park Board to bury five underground power cables through Nelson Park to connect the substation to the electrical system. While the cables would be buried, there will be short term impacts (e.g. construction), as well as long term impacts such as the removal and destruction of park features, such as mature trees and community gardens.
Thankfully, BC Hydro’s request has triggered the Nelson Park Impact Assessment and Public Engagement Process, to assess (a) whether the cables will be permitted, (b) if permitted, where they will agree to site the cables, and (c) the short and long term impacts of siting alternatives. This process is currently ongoing and in the process of wrapping up a series of public engagements.
For example, one of the topics being explored by the Parks Board is potential impacts to the urban forest, such as the removal of 20 trees, and the risk placed on other trees during construction. Additionally, all trees on the Lord Roberts Annex site will be removed.
If the Park Board permits the subsurface cables, which is almost a guarantee, there is no doubt that big changes will be coming to Nelson Park. The question is, to what extent will Nelson Park be resilient enough to withstand the short term and long-term impacts? How how will these impacts affect surrounding community members? What will the future Nelson Park look like?
As a park loved by many, it is critical that the negative short- and long-term impacts be minimized wherever possible, and when the time comes, much devotion given to the re-design of Nelson Park.
Have your say!
The Park Board’s Impact Assessment and Public Engagement process is currently ongoing and seeking feedback. To provide your impact on the current topics being explored (see list above), or to recommend the exploration of other potential topics (e.g. issues) not listed, fill out the Park Board Survey.
Survey Closes Friday, November 15 2020!
*Why a substation at all? The electricity system in downtown Vancouver is aging and needs upgrades. A new substation in the West End is needed to replace Dal Grauer Substation (near Scotia Bank Theatre) to ensure customers in downtown Vancouver continue to have access to reliable power.
For more information, visit here.