A spokesperson for BC Hydro says crews trim trees for safety not esthetics, while noting the company will work with owners of trees wherever possible.
“I don’t want it to sound like we don’t care, but the first and foremost responsibility for BC Hydro is to protect the lines, the infrastructure and the public safety,” said Ted Olynyk, community relations managers for Vancouver-Island Sunshine Coast. “We are not there to enhance public esthetic.
“At the end of the day, we always want to do what we can, because we are in for the long-term in communities. But there is some responsibility on the property owner to manage the esthetics of trees.”
He made these comments after the Peninsula News Review received a third-party complaint about recent tree-trimming work in the 9600-block of Second Street in Sidney.
Certified crews hired by BC Hydro are currently working on the Saanich Peninsula as part of a four-year cycle to trim vegetation that may interfere with power lines.
“We have the authority and responsibility to trim all trees that could come into contact with our lines,” said Olynyk, adding the main goal is to make sure that trees don’t come into contact with lines that would either start a fire or create an electrical hazard for anybody who came near a tree.
BC Hydro is spending $4.5 million on tree pruning on Vancouver Island in 2021 and $1 million on hazardous tree removal. In 2022, those respective figures will go up to $5.5 million and $1.6 million, as BC Hydro prepares for changing weather and growing patterns in the face of climate change.
Subject to various minimum clearance requirements, crews trim back vegetation to where it was four years ago, said Olynyk, acknowledging that a trimmed tree may look disproportionate afterwards.
Olynyk said BC Hydro does not need consent to trim trees, but will alert residents before doing so. BC Hydro will also not compensate owners of trees that need to come out, he said. “Having said that, we will work with property owners.”
Trees account for most most power interruptions in B.C., according to BC Hydro.
BC Hydro notes that trees could become a risk factor if they are they are too tall, dead or dying, diseased, have damaged root systems or are unstable. Removing problematic branches can deal with many hazards and crews will not remove healthy trees, shrubs, or other plants that are not a risk as long as the hazard can be eliminated.
For more information, residents can call 1-888-BCHYDRO.
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