Michael Woods, Ottawa Citizen
A city plan to keep hydro wires above ground on Main Street instead of burying them is drawing fire from the local community association.
The Old Ottawa East Community Association says burying hydro wires on the west side of a threeblock stretch of Main Street from Immaculata High School to Clegg Street instead of keeping them on above-ground poles would create more development capacity and increase municipal property tax revenues.
"It's an opportunity to make for a much better-looking environment, and one that encourages development," association president John Dance said Tuesday.
Main Street is set to undergo extensive construction over the next couple of years in a renewal project approved by council last year that will make it a "complete street" designed to benefit all users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
"We're grateful that the city is redesigning Main Street as a complete street. It's a wonderful change. But we'd like to go the extra step to get the wires buried," Dance said.
The city's underground wiring policy, adopted in 2011, says the hydro wires are buried only when a requesting party pays for the cost. Running wires underground isn't cheap; Hydro Ottawa estimates it would cost $1.5 million to $3.5 million to bury the wires on Main Street.
The community counters with its own estimate that it would cost less than $1 million.
But Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko said that despite his efforts, city staff could not come up with a technical reason, beyond esthetics, to bury the wires.