Burying wires could cost Fort Langley couple $84,000

Somebody at Township council’s July 9 meeting murmured something about the overhead wires in Fort Langley being part of the village’s heritage.

But whether or not they have historic value, the wires are coming down, at least along a 540 metre stretch of Glover Road and one block of Mavis Avenue, if a petition succeeds.

Council authorized staff to distribute a petition to the affected property owners, and proceed with the necessary bylaws, including one that spells out who will pay for the work.

With one exception, all the properties in the area are commercial.

The single oddity is a residence whose owners face a big bill that they say will be impossible to pay, if the petition succeeds.

On Sept. 10, Arica Appleton-Suomi and her husband, told council that if the petition is successful, their share of the cost will be $84,309, plus expenses associated with on-site work.

Even spread out over a number of years, the sum would be impossible to pay, they said.

Furthermore, Appleton-Suomi argued, the financial burden would make it impossible to sell the house, which is at 23358 Mavis Ave.

The proposal to bury the wires and remove the poles was made by the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association.

A preliminary petition was signed by owners representing 51.5 per cent of the properties and 53.4 per cent of the assessed property values within the benefitting area. This result meets the regulatory test required for a successful petition.

A report to council outlines the expense: $3 million, almost one-third of which will be paid by property owners. Taxpayers will absorb a little over $1 million.

As the power poles also carry streetlights, the removal of the poles will necessitate a new streetlight system.

The affected area is Glover Road from just south of 96 Avenue to the Jacob Haldi Bridge, and Mavis Street to River Road.

The couple has the support of the BIA whose president, Eric Woodward, told council that the BIA supports the couple’s request to be excluded from the petition area.

“It’s not acceptable to impose this cost,” Woodward said, adding that the petition process cannot be stopped.

Asked by Councillor Kim Richter if the BIA would be willing to underwrite the cost, Woodward replied, “I can’t say at this time.”

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