BC Hydro and the Vancouver School Board are revisiting the idea of building a new underground substation at the Lord Roberts Annex property in the city’s West End, and will begin consultation with the community in the coming weeks.
BC Hydro’s electricity system in downtown Vancouver is aging and a new substation in the West End is required to ensure that residents continue to receive reliable power. The proposal to the Vancouver School Board involves BC Hydro acquiring the rights to build a new substation underground at the Lord Roberts Annex property at a fair market price.
BC Hydro first proposed the idea of a new substation underground at the Lord Roberts Annex property last year. Since that time, BC Hydro has explored all available options for a new substation in the West End, which would take up almost half a city block if it were built above ground. Most suitable properties are currently being used for housing, which would need to be removed if purchased for a future West End Substation.
“With land in downtown Vancouver being scarce and expensive, we believe that an underground substation is the best option to meet the long-term electricity needs of the West End community,” said Chris O’Riley, president and COO of BC Hydro. “By going underground, we would eliminate the need to purchase expensive, private property and potentially take away housing stock from the area, while also providing significant funding to the downtown Vancouver school community.”
BC Hydro and the Vancouver School Board will begin consultation with the West End community on the proposed plan in May. Vancouver School Board will hold engagement sessions with parents and stakeholder groups, and BC Hydro will hold open houses, small group meetings, and online consultation. Following consultation, the Vancouver Board of Education will make a decision on this proposal at a public board meeting in June.
“The West End needs additional school spaces for the growing community of families there, so we are interested in exploring this proposal to see if it could provide a worthwhile and safe solution,” said Janet Fraser, chair of the Vancouver Board of Education. “We look forward to hearing the input from our stakeholders and parents about this proposal to help us make a decision that could meet the needs of the school district while meeting the needs of BC Hydro.”
The City of Vancouver also issued a statement regarding the proposal, as the municipality is the registered owner of the property being considered for the underground substation:
“In order for this new BC Hydro proposal to move forward, it will require approval by the Vancouver Board of Education, City Council and the Park Board. The City is the registered owner of the land comprising the park and owns adjacent streets. Therefore, the City will be required to enter into any leases or statutory rights of way that may be required for the proposed substation. The Park Board has exclusive jurisdiction over permanent and temporary parks.”