Businesses close to Askew Creek Park in Chemainus impacted by windstorm damage in recent storms will likely have to deal with the situation on their own.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring told council at a recent meeting that he and senior staff made a visit to the area around the Oak Street and Chemainus Road intersection, which is adjacent to the 3.4-hectare forested park, where the businesses are located.
He said the meeting was precipitated by concerns raised by 49th Parallel Grocery about ongoing problems with windstorms taking down trees in Askew Creek Park and knocking out the store’s power.
“49th Parallel and some of the other businesses in [Chemainus Village Square], including Riot Brewing, lost tens of thousands of dollars in inventory during the big windstorm in December and power outages from two other subsequent storms that also created major losses for them,” Siebring said.
“Our staff and BC Hydro crews have done some vegetation removal in the park, but the concern was that more trees will be coming down in the future.”
Siebring said BC Hydro explained that there’s not much the power company can do about the situation.
He said BC Hydro told him and staff that the issue is bigger than the trees in the park, and involves vegetation and trees all along the power grids that feed into Chemainus.
“Our municipal forester Shaun Mason committed to having another look at the trees in Askew Creek Park to see if any of them posed a danger, not just to the power grid but to pedestrians in the area,” Siebring said.
“We asked BC Hydro about the possibility of putting the power lines underground in that area, but were told the expense of that would be severely prohibitive. At the end of the day, the message to 49th Parallel and the other businesses was probably something they didn’t want to hear.”
Siebring said the best solution for the businesses when they have power outages is to have some kind of electrical generating capacity, or have access to refrigerated trucks for their inventory when the lights go out.