A plan to put power lines underground, and its price, came as a bit of a shock to some residents of downtown Fort Langley.
Ray Keller lives in a strata unit in Heritage Manor, a mixed residential and commercial unit at the intersection of 96th Avenue and Glover Road.
Starting in a few years, he and the other residents in the 16 condo units will have to pay more than $400 a year on top of their property taxes, for 20 years.
"Why are we being forced to pay for something that's a business initiative?" Keller said.
The project is part of a Local Area Service plan that will see power lines, telephone lines, and cable TV lines from 96th Avenue north to Mavis Avenue, and a short distance east and west on Mavis, buried underground.
Power poles will be uprooted, roads and sidewalks will have to be rebuilt, and even a gas main is likely to be affected, according to a Township report.
Keller and his neighbours aren't happy with the change, which he says will mean $414 extra in payments every year.
"That's not the real kicker," said Keller. "The kicker is that we have to pay to reconnect our building."
Keller said the strata hasn't mined how much that will cost, but it is likely to be tens of thousands, and the strata will have to do a special assessment to pay for it.
"The hookup cost is the big one," said Diane Simpson, another resident of the building.
The Fort Langley Business Improvement Association (BIA) called for the $3 million project to clear away power lines from the downtown area, a beautification project that many neighbourhoods have undertaken around the Lower Mainland in recent years.
The BIA ran a petition and once more than 50 per cent of landowners in the area had signed on, the Township was asked to approve it.
Eric Woodward spoke to the council Monday and said that because part of the Heritage Manor is a commercial building, it was included in the plans.
Keller spoke to the council as well, but the vote was seven to two in favour of the project.
There will be a delay, however, to spread out the costs. Residents will have a year's grace period before the payments kick in.
Residents in the area are currently paying a similar yearly surcharge on a similar sewage project, and the payments for the wire undergrounding won't start until that project wraps up. Keller said the sewage surcharge is less than that for the wiring.
This is the first time a local petition has been done for undergrounding overhead wires. Similar processes have been in place for years for sewer and water pipes, and areas in Brookswood have seen several such plans.
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