Site C will bring no new transmission lines to the Sea to Sky region.
That's the message BC Hydro is sending to corridor residents after politicians in Pemberton last week raised concerns about the impacts that the proposed 900 MW hydroelectric dam in the Peace River region could have on the valley.
Village Councillor Susie Gimse said at an April 20 council meeting that she'd been in "heated meetings" with BC Hydro over plans to double up the transmission lines along existing corridors to accommodate the electricity that would come from Site C. She also wondered why BC Hydro had bought up "key parcels" of land in the D'Arcy and Birken areas to Pemberton's north.
This week Dag Sharman, a spokesman for BC Hydro, e-mailed Pique and said there will be "no new transmission lines" beyond a substation at the Peace Canyon in northern British Columbia.
"Based on an analysis by the British Columbia Transmission Corporation, no new transmission lines past the point of interconnection at Peace Canyon would be required for the Site C project," he said.
"Site C would be connected to the existing provincial transmission line system by two 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission lines. The lines would run from Site C to the existing Peace Canyon Generating Station along an existing right-of-way that is currently used by two 138 kV transmission lines.
"The existing 118-metre right-of-way would need to be expanded by 34 metres to accommodate both 500 kV lines."
Speaking about the parcels of land in D'Arcy and Birken, Sharman said they have nothing to do with transmission lines. BC Hydro has bought up three parcels of land at 9474 Portage Road, 9523 Portage Road and 9523 B Portage Road.
Sharman said they've been bought to "lessen BC Hydro's environmental impact" and help the corporation reach its goal of "no net incremental environmental impact" from 2004 to 2024.
The parcels are located in the Gates Creek watershed, a sub-basin of the Seton Watershed, and were purchased as part of the Bridge Coastal Restoration Program, which aims to restore fish and wildlife resources in areas that have been hit by the footprints of hydro development.
The Bridge Coastal Generation Area is located in the Bridge River Valley region near Lillooet and land has been bought there in order to conserve and improve habitat for fish stocks in Seton Lake and its tributaries.
Gimse said that she's requested a meeting with representatives of the B.C. Transmission Corporation at a gathering of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association to find out specifically the planned transmission route of the Site C hydro project.
"I'm still concerned there could be upgrades to existing transmission infrastructure," she said. "So I'm still skeptical, but I've asked for a meeting. I'm pretty confident that I'll get that meeting and I want to understand from BCTC, BC Hydro, I want to hear first hand what they have proposed."
The provincial government recently decided to move Site C forward into an environmental assessment mandated by the Environmental Assessment Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The process is expected to take about two years and will give the public opportunities to offer input and submissions.
Transmission lines, however, remain a source of concern for Pembertonians because they traverse the valley floor right through the centre of town. Residents worry the lines could cause cancer.
The Village of Pemberton reluctantly chose to build a bike park and skate park on a lot beneath the lines next to the community centre. They moved forward on the premise that the link between power lines and cancer has not been effectively proven.