Port Metro broke promise on North Vancouver hydro lines
"The Port has to apologize a little on this one," came the surprising admission of wrongdoing from Port Metro Vancouver on Monday.
It came from Justin Pedley, the Port's director of trade areas and infrastructure delivery, at the height of what's become an almost recurring Monday night showdown between the federal Port authority and North Vancouver city council.
This week's blowup was — like the others — a result of the Port's expansion around its north-side Burrard Inlet terminals and the Low Level Road realignment project. But this time it was an angry delegation of dozens of historic Moodyville area residents who flooded council chambers to lash out at both the Port and BC Hydro for failing to consult with residents about the installation of high-voltage hydro lines through Moodyville, as they promised they would last June.
Apparently the Port and the provincial power company simply announced on March 6 that the transmission lines and towers had already been ordered and that the installation work would begin along Third Street and St. Davids Avenue before the end of the month.
Prior to the announcement, residents and city councillors had assumed the high-voltage lines feeding the Richardson grain terminal would be located on Port lands and along the expanded Low Level Road. At very least, council assumed the Port's promise to consult with residents about the placement of the lines would be honoured.
They were wrong, Pedley admitted in his apology.
It was an unacceptable outcome, according to all councillors, though Coun. Linda Buchanan was absent from Monday's meeting.
Coun. Rod Clark fired first, citing a two-year-old city dispute with BC Hydro over changes in plans at a hydro substation just one block north of where the current resident dispute originates.
"Be careful with Hydro," Clark, a Moodyville resident, warned. "Their track record at this council table is dismal, to put it mildly."
BC Hydro responded to The Outlook Tuesday, saying only that questions about the project should be directed to the Port.
Still, Coun. Pam Bookham protested loudest, calling for open demonstrations and civil disobedience in the streets of Moodyville if residents' demands are not heard.
"I believe you're going to get a very patronizing explanation of why you need to suck it up and allow this to happen in your neighbourhood," she told the residents. "If I were you, I would be taking to the streets. I would be taking charge of my neighbourhood and making it very, very difficult for Hydro to get in there to do the work that they are inflicting on your community. That's entirely up to you. But if you're there, I'll be there."
An emergency meeting was called for Tuesday evening between Moodyville residents and Port, Hydro and city officials. City staff were directed to examine the input of the meeting and report back to council with their recommendations.
But serious doubt prevails among city council as to whether either the power company or the federal Port authority will budge from their Moodyville plans.
"So what we should expect from this point forward is, in fact, that there will be options to reroute?" Coun. Craig Keating asked Pedley. "I'm not saying that we will necessarily end up with those options, but that there will be a public process whereby we can discuss options about how we plan a different route that has met the objections up to this stage?" he clarified.
"We will listen to the community, present some options, and I can't promise any more than that," came the Port's response, to the disappointment of the residents.
Some of those Moodyville citizens who spoke at Monday's meeting complained that this latest announcement is the fourth bombshell to fall on the neighbourhood from the Port expansion in the past year, and that the scope of the fallout from the project was still anyone's guess.
Residents cited the deforestation of Moodyville Park, the expansion of coal facilities at Neptune Bulk Terminals and the planned $120-million expansion of the Richardson grain terminal — which the city staunchly opposed — as just the opening salvo in the Port's expansion plans.
"How many more changes are coming that we didn't see when we looked at the Low Level Road question?" Coun. Don Bell asked the Port. "How many more surprises do you have?"
It was a catch-22 question and one for which Mayor Darrell Mussatto called down the mercy rule and excused Pedley from answering, having already taken a verbal beating by council and residents.
“I get the feeling this is not the end of it,” Mussatto said at the close of the meeting.
Tuesday's emergency meeting is planned for 6 p.m. at the John Braithwaite Community Centre in North Vancouver.