Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation negotiates $8 million compensation from BC Hydro for Nelson Park property rights

May 19 2022 –

Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has successfully negotiated $8 million in return for approving BC Hydro’s request for property rights in portions of Nelson Park as the West End Substation Project moves forward. 

The funds provided by BC Hydro will be used by Park Board to move forward with improving parks in the West End and help ensure Nelson Park continues to meet the needs of the growing community.

In February 2022, the Park Board approved BC Hydro’s request (1.6 MB) for rights-of-way through a section of Nelson Park to allow for construction of underground distribution and transmission lines. Additionally, BC Hydro requested driveway access to provide shared entry to the future school and underground substation at the Lord Roberts Annex property.

“Knowing the substation project at the Lord Roberts Annex property adjacent to Nelson Park was moving ahead meant shifting from our more familiar role as those who build and maintain parks and public amenities, to ensuring the least amount of disruption possible to the park,” explains Donnie Rosa, General Manager of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. “Another aspect of our role in this was to ensure reasonable compensation from BC Hydro on behalf of the park users who will be impacted by this project.”

Nelson Park provides critical access to nature for West End residents and is a space used for health, wellness, and leisure. There are currently 20,000 residents living within a 10-minute walk of Nelson Park and the population of the West End is expected to grow by 30,000 over the next 30 years.

“We’re committed to delivering safe and reliable power to our customers in downtown Vancouver,” says Chris O’Riley, President and CEO of BC Hydro. “The rights of way access in Nelson Park is an important component for a new underground substation in the West End that will serve the downtown core for generations to come.”

BC Hydro has indicated that construction for the underground substation, adjacent to Nelson Park, could begin as early as 2024, with estimated project completion in 2029. The underground power line construction in Nelson Park will occur over one to two winter months sometime during this construction window, when park traffic is low and the West End Farmers Market is not being held. 

Additional updates and timelines will be provided by BC Hydro and the Vancouver School Board as the West End Substation Project continues. 

BC Hydro background 

The new West End Substation will replace the existing Dal Grauer Substation, ensuring people in downtown Vancouver continue to have access to reliable power. Dal Grauer Substation was built over 70 years ago, with aging infrastructure that needs upgrades and replacement.  

A new substation, able to meet the electricity needs of the area, needed to be centrally located like the existing Dal Grauer Substation, and have enough room to allow for future demand.

At a public board meeting on June 25, 2018, trustees of the Vancouver School Board approved moving forward with the proposal to sell BC Hydro a subsurface parcel beneath the Lord Roberts Annex property in the West End for the development of an underground substation. This will be an underground substation, topped by a playing field and will allow for the construction of an adjacent elementary school after the underground substation is complete. The funds received are being used by the Vancouver School Board to build the new school in Coal Harbour, as well as a future school at the Lord Roberts Annex property. 

Learn more about the West End Substation Project