FortisAlberta will make both friends and enemies when it conducts an annual cable replacement project in Big Springs this summer.
As reported on our front page this week as well as in our newspaper last week, the electricity provider is planning to replace below-ground electric cables along two streets in the east Airdrie neighbourhood, as the current subsurface infrastructure there is among the oldest in the city. As a result, Big Springs Hill and Big Springs Green experience considerably more power outages than other parts of Airdrie .
While an upgraded electricity supply and more power capabilities are being welcomed by some residents, many people who live along the two impacted streets are upset about the impacts the project will have on their landscaping. In order to have access to the Utility Right of Way, FortisAlberta contractors will need to remove many of the trees along Big Springs Green and Big Springs Hill. Several trees along those two streets have a red 'X' spray-painted on them.
Naturally, many residents are opposing the project on those grounds. Even though FortisAlberta is promising to provide land-restoration vouchers to impacted households, some feel that's hardly consolation for the loss of their mature trees. They worry the loss of their trees – which provide both privacy, nice greenery, and abundant bird species – will lessen their property values.
However, those in favour of the cable replacement argue that an improved power supply will do the opposite, and increase property values.
In terms of FortisAlberta's reputation along those two streets, it's kind of a no-win scenario.
One thing is for certain, however. When presenting to City council about this a few weeks ago, the FortisAlberta representatives noted the Big Springs cable replacement project is a pilot. Results will dictate how they pursue future cable replacements in the near future.
They listed 10 Airdrie neighbourhoods with 'vintage' (AKA 40 year old) cabling, so it's likely we'll see more situations like this coming forward in the future.