A group of Anmore residents is petitioning Premier Christy Clark and the BC Utilities Commission to make BC Hydro put its new transmission line underground because of safety concerns.
Urs Ribary said the utility is ignoring residents' concerns and proceeding with plans to install a 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line that will put families at risk of high exposure to electro-magnetic fields (EMF).
"Somebody has to stand up and put on the brakes," Ribary said. "We need a safer solution."
Although the existing line has cut through people's yards along a right of way for several decades, people now are more aware of the health risks of EMF, Ribary told The Tri-City News.
But spokesperson Judy Dobrowolski said the additional line will be consolidated with an existing line, reducing the number of structures and lowering the current magnetic field levels, while existing levels are already within World Health Organization standards.
But Ribary and his group say BC Hydro's data on EMF exposure is incomplete and ignores the long-term effects of regular exposure. Putting the line underground would avoid health risks to about 140 homes and up to 700 people, he said, but BC Hydro has not entertained the idea because of the cost.
Dobrowolski said putting the transmission lines underground would cost $35 million compared to $9 million for the overhead structures.
"We are gong to continue to reach out to impacted residents," said Dobrowolski, noting that three properties will have the newer, taller poles, including one that doesn't currently have a hydro pole, while three properties will be losing structures. A landscape architect will be hired to find ways to deal with with sightlines and other landscaping issues.
"It's an existing right of way that's been there for a quite a while," she said. "We aren't going to be buying properties."
Dobrowolski said the Metro North Transmission project would run from Coquitlam through Port Moody and Anmore to Burnaby, ending at Mount Pleasant in Vancouver, and Hydro says it is needed to ensure Metro Vancouver power needs are met for the growing population.