An underground electrical substation at Lord Roberts School Annex: Back on the table, consultations in May


The “SEED” proposal from 2017

The Vancouver School Board is once again looking at a proposal from BC Hydro

Below is text from a joint VSB-BC Hydro announcement on the new initiative, plus fresh media coverage. A fresh proposal has been made for BC Hydro to acquire the rights to build a new substation underground at the Lord Roberts Elementary School Annex property in the West End.

In 2017, BC Hydro abandoned the effort to build two substations, one in Yaletown and one near Lord Roberts Annex, saying the City of Vancouver was demanding too much money. The City said BC Hydro was trying to rush the decision. Less discussed at the time was the fact decision-making at the school board was being done at the time by one sole person, Dianne Turner, the official trustee who was politically appointed by the B.C. Liberal government after it had fired the entire school board. The optics of a political appointee approving a major proposal by a Crown corporation may have been a cause for some concern. (A new school board went in with a byelection in September 2017, and incidentally, Dianne Turner’s term ended in April 2018.)

Now the proposal back and the public has a chance to look at the pros and cons. Consultations will begin in May, and a decision is expected in June, well before the municipal elections on October 20.

Joint announcement by VSB and BC Hydro, April 2018

BC Hydro and VSB revisit proposal to use Lord Roberts Annex land for new substation

BC Hydro has approached VSB to revisit their proposal to build a new underground substation at the Lord Roberts Annex property in the West End.  

If approved, BC Hydro would acquire the rights to build a new substation underground at the Lord Roberts Annex property at a fair market price. This would provide VSB with funding to build a new Coal Harbour School sooner than expected and would allow for construction of a new elementary school at the Lord Roberts Annex site after the substation is complete. This would help address VSB enrolment pressure in the downtown area at the end of the next decade. 

The Vancouver Board of Education has not made a decision about this proposal. In May, BC Hydro will hold open houses, small group meetings and online consultations with the West End to discuss their proposal. In addition, VSB will hold engagement sessions with parents and stakeholder groups in May (dates and locations TBD). Following consultation, the Vancouver Board of Education will make a decision on this proposal at a public board meeting in June. 

“The West End needs additional school spaces for the growing community of families there, so we are interested in exploring this proposal to see if it could provide a worthwhile and safe solution,” says Janet Fraser, Chair of the Vancouver Board of Education. “We look forward to hearing the input from our stakeholders and parents about this proposal to help us make a decision that could meet the needs of the school district while meeting the needs of BC Hydro.” 

VSB encourages parents, staff and others in the Lord Roberts Annex and Lord Roberts Elementary school communities to take part in consultations to become better informed and provide their input. 

View the news release from VSB and BC Hydro announcing the 2018 proposal 

Some background from the 2017 proposal to VSB from BC Hydro: 

  • View the report of March 24, 2017 to VSB’s Planning and Facilities Committee (Committee II) on the BC Hydro SEED proposal
  • View a letter from Dr. Patricia Daly, vice-president, public health and chief medical health officer, Vancouver Coastal Health 



BC Hydro revives underground substation idea for West End school, April 12, 2018

B.C. Hydro revisits plan to build substation under Vancouver school
Scott Brown, April 12, 2018

BC Hydro, Vancouver School District ponder West End underground substation
Public consultations slated for May, while trustees vote on plan in June
John Kurucz, Vancouver Courier. 12-Apr-2018



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