Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Windy Weather

with 2 comments

The big story here at the moment is the damage done by the wind storm yesterday. And how people in Lion’s Bay are prepared – after their experience last year. Because when the wind blows the power lines come down.

Now I know this makes me sound like a foreigner, but I can never understand why we have so many wires festooned on poles in our neighborhoods. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, talking to an American engineer visiting here and looking at the Canada Line construction, he was amazed at the great ganglions of hydro wires in all of those downtown back alleys – sorry, “lanes”. He said it was a “third world” arrangement.

I have been told by people who work for BC Hydro that the cost of putting wires underground is not justifiable. The wires on poles are cheap to install and easy to repair. And certainly when you see the damage that a contractor can do to utilities with a misdirected excavator, reluctance to bury the wires is understandable. But how often do you have to replace the poles, and call out the emergency crews, before you start looking at life cycle cost as opposed to first time installation cost?

And, of course, the view. (See also the picture of Williams Road in the earlier piece on transit and density)

power-pole.jpg

But my favourite story on the news tonight was one on the family in Mission who are off the grid altogether. They have solar voltaics on the roof, and a micro hydro in their back garden. And they are, and will be for some days, one of the few houses in their area who have power.

UPDATES

As an after thought – what about all those BC Hydro studies not so long ago that questioned the idea of wind turbines for coastal BC?

At least no-one here has yet suggested that putting up a wind generator should be an offence

But then I suspect this legislator has not seen one of these

Written by Stephen Rees

November 13, 2007 at 7:14 pm

Posted in energy, Urban Planning

Tagged with , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Apparently the views down the back alleys are considered a unique City trait / streetscape that you don’t see in other cities.

    Apart from that, downtown, the alley poles and the transformers are though to be a hazard in the event of an earthquake.

    ron c.

    November 14, 2007 at 1:57 pm

  2. There’s a Len Norris cartoon from the early 50s that makes reference to Vancouver’s back alley streetscapes, “These woods closed due to fire harzard” or something like that. I tried to find it on SFU’s extensive online collection of local editorial cartoons; couldn’t find that one but there are several transit-related cartoons — the more things change….

    My Favourites:

    From the BCE era:
    http://www.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/edocs/Cartoons?CartoonID=1405
    http://www.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/edocs/Cartoons?CartoonID=1431
    http://www.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/edocs/Cartoons?CartoonID=1427

    BC Hydro era
    http://www.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/edocs/Cartoons?CartoonID=800

    BC Transit era
    http://www.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/edocs/Cartoons?CartoonID=1820

    Dave

    November 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm


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