On August 26, 2020 the RMOW received a letter expressing the interest of Alta Vista residents to initiate a formal petition process consistent with s.212 of the Community Charter for the undergrounding of overhead utility services and apply to BC Hydro’s Beautification Grant program which, if successful, would be available to fund up to one third of BC Hydro’s costs for the project. The remaining two-thirds of BC Hydro’s costs and the full value of Telus and Shaw costs would be funded by a local area service tax. Cost sharing is based on the original project scope, and does not include any costs for work on private property.
In February 2021, BC Hydro declined Alta Vista’s grant application and on September 3, 2021 the RMOW received a new expression of interest from Alta Vista residents to re-apply for the Beautification Grant program and proceed with a petition in February 2023.
Section 212 of the Community Charter provides the right for owners located within a ‘sub-area’ of a municipality to petition for a local area service. Guided by the requirements of s.212 of the Community Charter, to become a ‘sufficient and valid’ petition a minimum of 50 per cent of the parcels, representing a minimum of 50 per cent of the land and improvement value, that would be subject to the tax, must express informed support for the local area service tax.
If the petition process is successful, the RMOW would provide project oversight, liaise with utility providers, and cover the up-front costs of the undergrounding process. All project costs, including project management costs and the opportunity cost of invested capital would be recovered over time from owners of the parcels located within the designated service area.
Homeowners in Alta Vista have formed an owners’ representative group and are coordinating with the RMOW project manager, Christine Boehringer, to prepare and administer the petition that will be presented to owners. This is the next necessary step to move this project forward.