VANCOUVER, June 6 /CNW/ - Since June 2nd, the BC Transmission Corporation
(BCTC) has been denied access by a number of property owners while attempting
to exercise our legal right and obligation to construct the 3.7 kilometre
Tsawwassen segment of the Vancouver Island Transmission Reinforcement upgrade
Offers of voluntary compensation, appropriate indemnification and
restoration of properties post-construction have been ongoing with affected
property owners. BCTC has been working directly with residents for two months
on minimizing and mitigating the impacts of construction.
Some property owners have been cooperative in allowing access for crews
to prepare sites for construction, but others have not. The BC Transmission
Corporation recognizes and respects the right of citizens to voice their
opinions in a legal fashion.
It is important to note that existing right-of-way agreements give
BC Hydro and BCTC the legal right to access these properties for this upgrade.
However, BCTC has been left with no other option to file an application to the
BC Supreme Court to obtain an injunction to stop people from denying access to
their properties and preventing construction from taking place, thereby
jeopardizing the in-service date of the project. The injunction application
contains evidence in the form of affidavits setting out the denial of access
by a number of landowners. The courts will be asked to make an order
confirming BCTC and BC Hydro's ability to access these properties to build the
BCTC is bound by a legal obligation to construct the VITR Project. In its
July 2006 decision, following 12 months of review and hearings, the
BC Utilities Commission, an independent quasi-judicial regulatory authority,
directed BCTC to construct the VITR project. That direction included using
overhead lines along the existing right-of-way that has been in place for 50
years and that BCTC proceed expeditiously with the project.
In the meantime, BCTC's crews will continue construction. Where access
through residential properties on the right-of-way is required, BCTC will
continue to request that access. Individual construction management plans and
site restoration plans are being developed for these owners. Since March, BCTC
has met with owners of properties directly impacted by pole construction and
access to new pole sites.
BCTC looks forward to beginning construction activities on these
properties, pending a decision on this application, in order to meet the
project's October 2008 in-service date. The upgrade will ensure that 700,000
residents and businesses on Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands
continue to receive reliable electricity.
It must be remembered that all but one of the property owners along this
existing right-of-way moved there after the original transmission was built.
As well, in the 2006 BCUC hearings, the Tsawwassen residents group Tsawwassen
Residents Against Higher Voltage Overhead Lines (TRAHVOL) opposed underground
construction on the right-of-way.
In addition to numerous independent reviews and approvals, this upgrade
to the existing line has been upheld in the courts, including the Supreme
Court of Canada, which refused to hear TRAHVOL's appeal from the BC Court of
Respected health experts have declared the upgraded line safe and EMF
levels well within international guidelines. Leading health experts in Canada
and around the world say there is no reason to be concerned about exposure
levels in typical Canadian homes and workplaces, regardless of the proximity
of power lines. Health Canada confirmed that: "It is the opinion of Health
Canada scientists that the VITR Project does not pose a public health risk
with respect to EMF exposure from the proposed transmission lines."
On the 3.7 kilometre Tsawwassen segment, the 78 existing wooden poles
will be replaced with 20 new steel poles on nine residential properties. This
represents a 77 per cent reduction in the number of poles on Tsawwassen
For further information:
For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: Thoren Hudyma, BCTC Public
Affairs, (604) 699-7298, www.bctc.com