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Statement on BC Hydro "seed" proposal

March 9 2017

Downtown Vancouver skyline

Vancouver City Council passed a motion during an in camera meeting on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, to postpone any decision on BC Hydro’s “seed” proposal. 

Both City Council and the Park Board Commissioners have interests in the project and City Council could not make a fully informed decision on behalf of the residents of Vancouver by BC Hydro’s March 31 deadline. City Council had committed to making a decision on the proposal by August 3.

Council cited limited public consultation to date and a lack of information to address its concerns and concerns raised by the public as the main reasons for not providing approval at this time. Concerns about the project have included:

  • Noise
  • Impacts on parks, transportation, and utilities
  • Electromagnetic field impacts
  • Financial due diligence
  • Limited timeframe required by BC Hydro to complete the transactions

About the proposal

BC Hydro had proposed to build underground electrical substations in the following locations:

  • Nelson Park (construction between 2020-2025), in combination with the adjacent Lord Roberts Elementary School Annex
  • A portion of Emery Barnes Park (construction between 2036-2041)

BC Hydro also proposed to extend the lease of Cathedral Square Park.

The proposal included payments from BC Hydro that would have potentially been used for:

  • Upgrades to parks
  • Construction of new schools, housing, and new recreation facilities.

The City would have been responsible for carrying out these projects.

Staff from the City of Vancouver, the Park Board, and Vancouver School Board had been working with BC Hydro to explore the proposed developments and to perform due diligence so that the boards of each organization could make an informed decision.

In order for the project to move forward, approval would have been required from Vancouver City Council, the Park Board, and the Vancouver School Board. The City is the registered owner of the land comprising each of the parks and owns adjacent streets and would have been required to enter into any leases, statutory rights of way, or other registrable charges that may have been required for the proposed substations. The Park Board has exclusive jurisdiction over permanent and temporary parks. 

BC Hydro’s proposal included the City granting a 99-year prepaid lease to enable the construction of the proposed substation at Emery Barnes Park. BC Hydro also sought statutory rights of way (SROWs) over parkland for transmission and distribution lines. The City and BC Hydro have been in discussion regarding the terms of the legal agreement. Due to the time constraints, the City and BC Hydro had not yet been able to agree on the value of the land.