Library being planned around power substation

ORILLIA, ONTARIO - City councillor Maurice McMillan is not an undertaker.

But there are a few things he’d like to deep six.

The retired power company employee thinks the city should start burying power lines and substations in the downtown to improve its appearance.

“If we’re going to have a modern city these things should be underground.

”

The current design for a new library calls for the building to bend in a L-shape around a power substation beside the Market Square, north of the opera house on West Street.

“We’ve worked with the idea we can’t move that (substation) — that it’s a fixture,” says library employee Gail Ward, a member of the building steering committee.

“The designs I’ve seen work around it. They actually hide the substation.”

This makes no sense, says McMillan, who thinks the city should at least inquire about the cost of moving the substation or putting it underground.

The city should also consider burying power lines when existing streets, such as West Street, are widened, McMillan says.

“In Oakville, they’ve put all their wiring underground.”

Without overhead power lines, the streetscape is more appealing and trees can grow without needing to be severely trimmed by the power company, McMillan said.

“It’s an environmental additive to have trees growing.”

In new subdivisions, it is standard practice to run electrical services underground.

But burying or moving major electrical infrastructure after the fact can be very costly.

During the last council term, the Orillia Power Corporation (OPC) estimated it would cost $850,000 to conceal the substation on West Street South beside the site of the multi-use recreation facility.

The council of the day decided the expense was prohibitive.

McMillan thinks that decision should be reconsidered, saying that power substation will clash with the new recreation complex.

“It kind of weakens the dream visually.”



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