Uniform Rules for Buried Utilities (Wiring)

(While browsing some buttons on my blogspot site, I found this older post that somehow never made it onto the blog. Recall that there was some controversey and commentary in the blogsphere and in the Citizen on burying wires. Old, but still relevant: )

The city does not pay to bury the gas mains, it just requires the gas company to do that. It does not bury the water mains for free, it charges the users to do that. It charges customers/forces the utilties in most areas to bury the electric, teleco, cable tv wires but exempts existing urban areas. This creates an unfair economic advanatage to businesses in older areas that do not pay for underground wiring like their suburban competitors do. To level the playing field, the city need only apply its rules to everyone: new wiring goes underground, and the cost is recovered over decades from user charges. When streets undergo major reconstruction, bury the wires.

Existing businesses would have the additional cost of converting their own premises intake points to be underground (which suburban businesses have built-in from day one) but this cost should be amortized over 10 or 20 years on the property tax bill or hydro bill so the current commercial tennant in the redeveloped street does bear the brunt of the capital improvement.

On the other hand … the city owns Ottawa hyrdo and takes the profits, might there be a conflict of interest in imposing costs on a utility it owns that doesnt affect how it imposes costs on other utilities? Ottawa Hydro profits are an important revenue source of council. If Hydro was privatized, then there is even less reason why electric wires in older areas should be exempt from being buried at times of major reconstruction.

And on my third hand … those big wooden poles do separate cars from pedestrians, and protect the sidewalks from cars jumping the curb either when they are moving or to find parking. Already on Preston St motorists are parking on the new sidewalks (as there are no curbside poles!).