People power vs. power lines
BY FRANK LUBA LOWER MAINLAND REPORTER
There won’t be 99 and they won’t be red but Delta residents hope the 20 big orange balloons floating high above Tsawwassen are a hit against plans to erect higher-powered overhead transmission lines in their neighbourhood.
While not quite as long-lived as the 1980s’ pop song “99 Red Balloons,” by Nena, the residents’ fight against the B.C. Transmission Corp. has been going on for years.
Time is finally running out, however, because construction on the towers is to start June 2.
That’s why a group called Spirit of Delta is inflating the balloons, which have a diameter of 1.5 metres, and tethering them at a height of 36 metres to illustrate the height of the new towers.
As well as the balloons, the Spirit of Delta is holding a rally at 3 p.m. Saturday at South Delta Secondary School. There will be speakers, local music and a speakers’ corner video display where comments can be sent to the media and will also be posted on YouTube.
The towers will help supply 700,000 Vancouver Island residents with power but the new, higher towers are 230 kilovolts compared with the old 138-kilovolt lines.
In addition to objecting to the higher towers, residents fear the higher electromagnetic field that will be generated by the new line.
Kevin Wright is a spokesman for the Spirit of Delta, which he said is trying to consolidate the opposition to the Tsawwassen towers.
“We’ve got a lot of people who happen to believe this is not a done deal,” said Wright.
The rally won’t change anything, according to Energy, Mines and Natural Resources spokesman Graham Currie.
“The decision has been made to proceed and that has come after three years of extensive public consultations,” said Currie.
The Spirit of Delta is using advertisements highlighting comments from Energy Minister Richard Neufeld in 2005 against building overhead lines.
“The BCTC has decided it will not construct new overhead 230-kilovolt lines in the four-kilometre section of the existing right of way in Tsawwassen,” Neufeld wrote in a letter to a Tsawwassen resident.
Currie said the final decision was made by the B.C. Utilities Commission, an independent provincial agency that regulates naturalgas and electricity utilities.
“The decision taken to the B.C. Utilities Commission was to do an underground option, but they ordered they [the lines] be put overhead,” Currie said. Wright refuses to surrender. “We’re expecting one key person, the premier, to step up and save Tsawwassen,” he said.