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Mayor Says "Trees Should Stay, Power Lines Should Go"
(Wednesday, August 8/2001)-- Nova Scotia Power seems to be taking a self-serving and convenient approach to reducing the likelihood of power outages due to ice storm damage by implementing a tough new policy on tree planting, Mayor Peter Kelly said today.
The Mayor was commenting on Nova Scotia Power's new "vegetation-easement" policy that would restrict the kind, and height, of trees that could be planted in new subdivision developments. It contends that ice and wind storms often cause tree branches to fall across its power lines, causing outages.
Mayor Kelly said a more appropriate approach to this problem would be to eliminate overhead wires ---- not to chop and hack existing trees located near power lines or to limit the kinds of trees that can be planted in new subdivisions.
"Perhaps it should be HRM laying down the ground rules to Nova Scotia Power, not a private company dictating to a municipality, " he said.
Mayor Kelly suggested the privately-owned power corporation invest some of the $20 million in municipal taxes that it saves annually due to a preferential arrangement with the Province of Nova Scotia "to put some of that money back into the communities that provide it with its revenues."
He said " Nova Scotia Power could address its concerns about worker and public safety, as well as reducing the number of power outages due to ice storms, if it undertook an aggressive program to locate its wire grid underground."
Mayor Kelly said that from both an aesthetic and an environmental point of view, preserving the existing trees in local neighbourhoods and planting new ones for the future is the approach favoured by HRM and many of its residents.
"We are known as the city of trees, and as far as the environment is concerned, you can't have too many trees in light of the increasing smog and pollution that we have in the world today," he said.
Mayor Kelly said Nova Scotia Power should also keep in kind that it is the municipality, not the company, that owns the 20-foot right-of-way in front of building lots within HRM.
"The Power Corporation may be a little too strident in setting down policy about what can, and can't, be done on municipally-owned rights-of-way. Other industries, such as telecommunications and natural gas, don't seem to have a problem with locating their infrastructure underground, " he said.
Mayor Kelly is expected to meet with senior officials of Nova Scotia Power on Thursday to discuss the controversial new policy.
If a compromise cannot be reached, he said, HRM may consider challenging the policy through the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board.
Mayor Peter Kelly