What is the situation?
Hydro will keep our old electrical system in place, and we can continue using this power system. If there is a breakdown, Hydro will continue to repair it. The wires of this older system are unprotected (that is, the wiring has not been put in pipes), though it is unclear if this older system is problematic as Hydro will not provide us with any studies on the functionality of our system, or the study which has lead Hydro to propose this “upgrade”.
Hydro has asked to install a secondary system around the Meadows. On Monday they held an info session, and we are being asked to vote on Wednesday on changing the land that Hydro can claim as belonging to Hydro – this land is called the servitude - so that Hydro can begin the work.
At first glance, getting a new electrical grid at the Meadows sounds appealing. However, past experience with Hydro made a number of us co-owners question if they have thought the plan out sufficiently. (It is already of concern that they have given us only two days to get informed before the vote). So a group of co-owners have collaborated to try to get more information about this project and asked many questions at the Information session on Monday night. We concluded that too many questions remain unanswered and too few assurances were provided. Below are our main concerns, followed by our conclusion.
1. Price: If we wish to use the new system, each home owner will need to do our own electrical and excavation work, at our own cost, to connect our “service loop” to their new piped electrical system. This cost is uncertain, but estimates are above 5,000$.
2. Foliage loss: At least three very mature trees and many bushes will be taken down. All bushes, vegetation and trees in the new servitude will be photographed, removed, and be replaced by Hydro with young bushes and trees, which will take many years to grow back. Once the servitudes are modified, we cannot plant on the servitudes. If we do, we risk them being removed.
3. Structural damage to our homes: Hydro has not done any assessment to determine how they can mitigate risk to our foundations, building and infrastructure. The representatives at the meeting repeatly said “we know what we’re doing, don’t worry”. But when asked if a soil engineer has been engaged to ensure excavation & trenching work does not cause serious ground disturbance resulting in structural damage to our homes, they say they don’t need it as they said they will be operating 10 metres from our homes - but when it was pointed out that their plans have them operating 10 feet from our homes, they still insist they don’t need to do any investigating. They will supposedly be consulting a soil testing company to verify the constitution of the soil, but this hasn’t been done yet. They are not doing any sort of scans or ex-rays to verify ‘before’ and ‘after’ to check for vulnerabilities in the places they will be digging. They have no plans to provide a letter stamped by an independent structural engineer stating that there is no threat of structural compromise. The main civil engineer for the project was unfamiliar with the difficulties many of our homes are experiencing or the terrain of the Meadows – they didn’t even know that they cannot bring heavy equipment on our courtyards.
4. Hydro accountability limited: If any of our homes incur any damages, they will provide a phone number which we can call and lodge a complaint. There are no guarantees that Hydro will be held accountable for any damages.
5. Little pollution control: They have no plans yet to control for air quality (e.g.,control cement particles in the air during construction) or to reduce noise during the work (e.g.,no backup noise attenuators on their trucks -beep beep beep).
6. Lack of transparency: When asked if other projects of this sort had been done, their PR director refused to let anyone discuss this with us.
If we vote no to changes of the servitude map on Wednesday, then they delay the work to another year. The risk to us is that they would fix electrical issues using the same techniques they’ve been fixing them in previous years, which sometimes involved excavation of wires. This co-owner ad-hoc committee has concluded that we would like to get more answers and assurances before Hydro begins this project, so we plan to vote no. (PM us your email address and we can send the specific questions we asked Hydro, and more details of Hyrdos replies)