Upgrades to substations provide opportunity for change
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
BC Hydro has officially proposed the Seed project to the Vancouver Parks Board, a large-scale public construction project aimed to improve the communities of the West End and Yaletown, while also building and upgrading two important power substations in the city.
The Seed project will focus on schools, parks, and greenways. The ambitious initiative was jointly proposed to the Park Board of Vancouver and the general public, with BC Hydro waiting for approval and feedback from both before proceeding.
According to a release from BC Hydro, the city’s demand for electricity over the next 30 years will increase by more than 75 per cent, with two major substations being decommissioned soon. Upgrades and replacements are needed to keep up with Vancouver’s increasing energy demand, and the Park Board’s desire for unobtrusive power stations and general livability has pushed the utility company towards this community-oriented approach.
Specifically, the program will aim to fund two new schools: one in Coal Harbour, and the other in the West End. There are also planned refurbishments and upgrades to Emery Barnes Park and substation, and a total overhaul of the Cathedral Square Park and substation. Park amenities and green spaces are also planned for locations around the same areas.
The initiative has been lauded by the Park Board, although they will only move forward with the Seed project with sufficient public support.
The program announcement comes at a time when the Cathedral Square Park substation is beginning to show the wear and tear of age. Finished in 1984, the power station was a first in North America, integrated underground into the build of the city itself. It was met with widespread critical acclaim at the time, though now it is outdated and the park around it has fallen into a small degree of disrepair. The Emery Barnes Park substation is also due for either an upgrade or complete replacement to meet with energy demands and safety standards.
The Seed Project is predicted to be decades-long, with the soonest date being the refurbishment of Cathedral Square Park by 2020, and the latest being an overhaul of that same substation by 2050, with other smaller funds for schools and community projects having no definitive date. Though a full price is unconfirmed, the Park Board has said to the Metro that it will be “in the tens of millions.”