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BC Hydro backs away from its rushed offer to build substations under Vancouver parks

March 17th, 2017 · 1 Comment

This was a strange one that no one could understand the timing of.

BC Hydro, in the last week of January, suddenly announced it wanted to build new electrical substations under a couple of downtown Vancouver parks — but it needed an agreement from parks, school board, and the city by March 31.

CEO Jessica McDonald said that it was because Hydro would have its unused capital money taken away by the provincial government at the end of the year if it wasn’t spent. It just didn’t make any sense.

The only explanation I’ve heard that does make any sense was that they wanted the deal in time for the election — something that could be shown off during the campaign as an innovative way the province was working to save money and build schools. (Hydro had offered to build two new schools downtown as part of the offer.)

Anyway, after some rushed public hearings and a quick online survey, it was raring to go. But the city, which had been pretty enthusiastic about the idea, calling it innovative and potentially rewarding for citizens, said it just couldn’t meet that deadline and wanted more time.

Council members voted in camera on that. There was also some initial skirmishing over the price. Hydro claimed Vancouver wanted the same value as buying the surface land, so then there would be no savings and no money available for building schools and refurbishing pars.

City manager Sadhu Johnston said there had been nothing beyond an opening offer and response, which, as anyone dealing with land knows, was not necessarily where they would end up.

So Hydro announced last week it was ceasing negotiations and rescinding the offer.

But I’m wondering if it might not come back next year.

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  • Morven

    When three levels of bureaucracies cannot agree whether this is a reviewable project, then all three are failing to address costs, risks and benefits. There is a business case that can be made but there are also residual risks.