Bury those power lines

Burying power lines in the city’s Railyards district is necessary if the downtown area is ever to meet its development potential, says a Red Deer architect.

Burying power lines in the city’s Railyards district is necessary if the downtown area is ever to meet its development potential, says a Red Deer architect.

George Berry, of Berry Architecture and Associates Ltd., told an Alberta Utilities Commission panel reviewing an application to upgrade the transmission system in the Red Deer region on Thursday that the land north and west of the downtown Real Canadian Superstore is prime riverside property.

It has been eyed by the city, through its Greater Downtown Action Plan, as ideal for high-density residential developments mixed with commercial and office space, said Berry, who chaired the steering committee that was looking at developing an area redevelopment plan for the Railyards.

That project is now on hold.

The Railyards offers similar opportunities as the Riverlands to the south, where the City of Red Deer has agreed to spend more than $8 million to bury 700 metres of power line to open the area up for future development. It is an expense the city has said it will not take on in the Railyards.

However, a number of business owners in the area want to see the line buried through the Railyards as well.

Among them is Red Deer emergency room physician Dr. Gregg Meikle, who bought a commercial building in the Railyards last year.

While he was aware no commitment had been made to bury the line in the area — even though it was highlighted as a benefit in the Greater Downtown Action Plan — he hoped “common sense would prevail.”

It makes no sense to upgrade the line and not bury it, he said.

AltaLink, which will undertake the $350-million transmission project, has a practice of not paying to bury power lines unless someone else pays for it, the hearing has heard. Burying lines can cost 10 times more than stringing them between poles.

In cross-examination, AltaLink lawyer Sandy Carpenter questioned Meikle on his motivation, noting he stood to benefit by redeveloping his property if the line was buried.

Meikle said he would only be one of a group of business people who would then be free to do more with the properties.

Carpenter pointed out if property owners and the city didn’t pay to bury the line, the costs would be passed on to all power users.

AltaLink also cross-examined representatives for the Pines Group, which represents about 50 residents in that neighbourhood who would like to see a replacement line moved further away from homes.

The City of Red Deer supports the route change, which would see a section of line moved down the escarpment behind the Pines.

Questioning was mostly focused on confirming details of the proposed routes. AltaLink’s preferred route follows the existing right of way.

Pines resident Howard Friesen said although the power line was there before the neighbourhood was developed, the proposed upgrade means big changes.

Wooden poles will be replaced by bigger, taller concrete poles and lines will carry triple the electricity load.

“At this point you’re going to have a structure that looks like something out of a commercial zone, not something in a residential zone,” said Friesen, who has lived in his Payne Close home since 1977.

To him, the situation is similar to the Railyards. If there is an ideal opportunity to move the line and improve the community, why not take it.

Friesen has no idea if residents’ voices will be heard by the commission.

“Who knows? You have the wishes of a few people against the push of a big conglomerate.

“Sometimes you get lucky.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Bharat Masrani, CEO, TD Bank Group speaks at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Shares in metals and mining companies have rebounded sharply

A worker carrying a disinfectant sprayer walks past a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft, after cleaning another plane at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
WestJet to lay off undisclosed number of pilots amid labour negotiations

Layoff notices to go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

Canada has ordered 24 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend Sunday Service, in Abbotsford, B.C., Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. A legal advocacy group challenging British Columbia’s COVID-19 restrictions on worship services and public protests is scheduled to be in court today arguing for the church and others that COVID-19 restrictions violate their charter rights. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Churches in court to challenge British Columbia’s COVID-19 health orders

Calgary-based organization says it represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities in the province

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Team Alberta as second Shannon Birchard, right, and lead Briane Meilleur sweep in the semi-final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson wins second straight Canadian women’s curling championship

Einarson and her teammates celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
With loved ones and pets, Globes winners embrace cozier show

Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Schitt’s Creek nabs two Golden Globes for its final season

Catherine O’Hara named best television actress in a musical or comedy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Most Read