B.C. Hydro lays plans for two new downtown Vancouver substations, deep underground

Not a good idea! Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.


Cutaway drawing of B.C. Hydro proposal to put a new substation deep underground beneath the playground of a replacement Lord Roberts school annex and an adjacent park.


an electrical substation — which transforms high voltage power to a lower voltage for domestic and business use — has been built underground. …


The Lord Roberts Annex would be demolished, the property excavated, the underground substation built there and then a new school would be built on top. The estimated completion date is 2025.

Artist's concept of Nelson park (foreground) and new Lords Roberts school annex (rear right) overtop a new underground B.C. Hydro substation.

Electric and magnetic fields surround electrical equipment and cause weak electric currents to flow through humans, according to Health Canada.

McDonald said that under peak evening demand, the underground substation at Cathedral Square can give off a maximum magnetic field of 100 milligauss (mG) at surface level, McDonald said. By comparison, high voltage transmission lines produce 81 mG, vacuums and hair dryers produce 300 mG and portable heaters produce 100 mG, according to B.C. Hydro.

Health Canada has issued a fact sheet on EMF, saying “there is no conclusive evidence of any harm caused by exposures at levels found in Canadian homes and schools, including those located just outside the boundaries of power line corridors.”

But the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified magnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic and Health Canada and the World Health Organization say more research is needed.

McDonald said substations are “entirely safe,” though there was an explosion in 2003 at the Dal Grauer facility that sent one employee to hospital and caused a power failure. There were also substation explosions in Kamloops in 2008 and Edmonton in 2010. Were the utility “only looking at it from a safety lens,” it would prefer its substations to be underground, McDonald said.

More than half of B.C. Hydro’s 300 substations are within 100 and 200 metres of public spaces like schools, parks or shopping areas, according to the utility.

B.C. Hydro has presented its idea to the park and school boards and it is expected to launch public consultation on Friday. It is expecting to make decisions by late March.



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