Fruitvale Area Residents Oppose Fortis Substation Location


There is controversy again surrounding a Fortis substation for the Fruitvale area.

The company says its current facility needs to be replaced and opponents agree.

What they don’t agree with is the location, a 10 acre property across from Atco Lumber.

The company has completed a conditional purchase agreement for the land which is known locally as the Moller/Lifely property which has passed through three generations and has four acres of pristine forest.

Nicole Brown of Fortis says the property checks off all the boxes for the company.

“The property is much larger than the existing site, the current zoning allows for utility use and it’s centrally located close to our existing assets so it’s really an ideal location,” she said.

Opponent Christy McGillivray told Bounce News the future of forest is among their concerns.

“It could mean loss of forest, loss of habitat and it’s located right in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, we are rural and there are houses all the way around it,” she said, adding that its affect would be felt beyond the residents near the project.

“And it’s not just the folks that live on Moller, Grieve or Old Salmo Rd that are affected, it will be the entire Fruitvale area,” she added.

Brown said their search for a site has been extensive.

“This is actually the 20th property we’ve looked at” she said.

“We evaluated all the properties that people have put forward, but they just had problems, like they were too far from infrastructure, some had flooding concerns, or steep slopes that just wouldn’t really work,” Brown added.

McGillivray said they have had no explanation why the other properties aren't suitable.

“They are not being transparent in that statement, because they aren’t giving us the opportunity to understand what other properties there are and what their deficiencies are,” she stated, adding that residents maintain there are better locations that would cost less.

Brown says the company plans to only use less than a third of the farm property for the project.

“It’s a ten acre site and we only need three so that gives us lots of opportunity to accommodate other ideas for the remaining property,” she explained, adding that residential input would be part of the process as the company doesn’t have a design.

“So it gives us lots of opportunity to incorporate the suggestions from the surrounding property owners and community,” said Brown.

However, McGillivray remains skeptical.

“What actually would be the use of that remaining property?’ she asked.

“Why would they need that big of a footprint?”

 Fortis has called an invitation only meeting with residents for June 1 at the Beaver Valley Curling Rink.

McGillivray said in the meantime, they will continue to petition against the project’s location.

“Try to get as many signatures as possible so we can show clearly that none of us really want this in our backyard, so to speak, and again looking for a suitable location is something we are all extremely interested in doing,” Christy said, noting it’s a quality of life issue.

“You have lifestyle, you have an agricultural corridor, you have wildlife, all of these are very important, and one of the reasons I’ve been living here for over twenty years.”  

Fruitvale Village Council rejected the sale of a Columbia Gardens Rd property for the substation last year.

The decision by council to reconsider selling its portion came after a citizens group protested against the plan for the land near Mazzochi Park.  It included a 600 name petition.