LETTER: Trees toppling on rural Nelson power lines – whose responsibility?

From reader C. Burton

Re: Recent Windstorm cost Nelson Hydro almost $400,000, Feb. 18

In this article Councillor Keith Page said, “Private land owners could be held responsible for their trees that topple onto hydro lines …”

Our property up the lake is bisected by Fortis hydro lines through the middle and Nelson Hydro lines along the front dirt road. On several occasions I, and some of my neighbours, have talked with both of the brushing crews on different occasions to take down some of the trees along their right-of-way that we know to be potential problems. I have offered to pay them to do what I want in addition to what they have been instructed to do. In all instances, they say they can not do that.

When I have hired professional fallers to take down problem trees near the power lines, they say they can’t do it either as it is legally on or close to hydro right-of-way. How can Nelson Hydro hold the rural home owner responsible for not taking down trees when they are on their right-of-way and we are not permitted to?

Now tell me, what is a property owner with a preventive outlook supposed to do? Wait for a windstorm to bring a tree through their roof or a fire started by a disrupted power line to finally have hydro crews arrive? Be content paying nearly an 18 per cent jump in their electrical fees, knowing as the paper reported, “only part of this increase would be to cover the cost of rural storm repairs.” And what part of this rural rate increase will go into city projects? Has anyone calculated the cost to rural customers to have their electricity down for days?

With wind and fire storms becoming worse every year now, maybe it’s time to do what’s really needed and bury those hydro lines along with the fiber optics. It’s not going to get any cheaper. You’ve already invested millions into tree clearing, and the wonderful thing about trees is that they keep growing. And trying to divide the urban and rural folks with selective money and legal information is counter-productive to help communities pull together for looming climate catastrophes.

C. Burton


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