A step back

New over­head power lines on Wa­ter Street go against decades of beau­ti­fi­ca­tion work, says city res­i­dent

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY EVAN CERETTI

A Charlottetown man is up­set about the power lines that were re­cently erected over­head Wa­ter Street.

Ray Brow said the over­head wires go against decades of beau­ti­fi­ca­tion work on the down­town street, specif­i­cally the bury­ing of elec­tri­cal wires.

From Queen Street to the Hills­bor­ough Bridge along Wa­ter Street, only one area — the cor­ner of Prince and Wa­ter streets — still had over­head power lines, un­til the newly erected power pole and power lines.

“In a nut­shell… there’s been a move­ment along Wa­ter Street to re­move the over­head wires,“said Brow.

Dur­ing the 1990s, the City of Charlottetown in­vested in beau­ti­fy­ing Wa­ter Street in many ways other than bury­ing power lines, such as build­ing board­walks, erect­ing street lan­terns and landscaping projects.

“Lo and be­hold, there’s new wiring go­ing in over Wa­ter Street as we speak. It goes against the move­ment that’s been in place for al­most two decades,” said Brow. “We’re back­slid­ing.“Brow said the choice to use over­head wires to power the new busi­ness is an in­ex­pen­sive method, rather than the more costly, vis­ually ap­peal­ing al­ter­na­tive of bury­ing them.

“We don’t want to go back to where we were. Wa­ter Street is a su­perb artery into the city. It’s a his­toric street; it’s some­thing we should be proud of.” Ray Brow

Mar­itime Elec­tric spokes­woman Kim Grif­fin said it’s not up to Mar­itime Elec­tric whether the power lines get erected over­head or put un­der­ground.

“That’s not some­thing we can just do un­less our cus­tomer pays us to do that.”

The newly erected power lines are three-phase ser­vice, which needed to go over­head, as one-phase ser­vice wasn’t strong enough for that location, said Grif­fin.

“The rea­son that Mar­itime Elec­tric is there is be­cause we needed to ser­vice a cus­tomer. We had to make sure we had the type of equip­ment that would prop­erly and safely ser­vice that cus­tomer.”

Mar­itime Elec­tric is sup­port­ive and re­spect­ful of the work the her­itage com­mit­tee has done in terms of ur­ban beau­ti­fi­ca­tion, said Grif­fin.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that peo­ple re­al­ize that, be­cause we have great re­spect for what the city has done.”

Brow has con­tacted lo­cal au­thor­i­ties but has come up short in find­ing any ex­pla­na­tion as to whether the lines will be put un­der­ground.

“Why is some­one al­low­ing this to hap­pen? The key to this is to stop this one so there’s no more,” he said. “We don’t want to go back to where we were. Wa­ter Street is a su­perb artery into the city. It’s a his­toric street; it’s some­thing we should be proud of.”

Paul John­ston, man­ager of in­fras­truc­ture and asset man­age­ment for the Charlottetown’s de­part­ment of pub­lic works, said there has been no bury­ing of over­head lines on Wa­ter Street in the last five years.

Most of the ma­jor beau­ti­fi­ca­tion work, in­clud­ing putting power lines un­der­ground, hap­pened in the mid-1990s dur­ing the con­struc­tion of Wa­ter Street Park­way, said John­ston.

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