Overhead wires, tree canopy and BC Hydro. Is it time to start undergrounding utilities?

Overhead wires are responsible for significant gaps in the tree canopy. Aggressive tree pruning stunts tree growth and limits canopy coverage. For reference, we’ve included a number of photos taken on February 4, 2021 from West 7th Avenue, taken just after some of the street trees were pruned.

The recent Urban Forest Strategy report from Park Board estimates that Vancouver currently has 23% tree canopy coverage. They are aiming to increase this coverage to 30% Citywide by 2050. Yet the entire topic of undergrounding utilities is not discussed in that strategy. It’s worth noting that the City of Toronto has been undergrounding utilities for decades and has reached 40% canopy coverage.

Undergrounding utilities has other benefits, such as increasing resilience to power outages from storms. Overhead wires are responsible for many maimed street trees in Vancouver. Perhaps additional steps are needed to increase tree canopy in ‘the Greenest City’.

Private contractor (and not unionized City staff) at work pruning street trees on February 4, 2021 along West 7th Avenue


Park Board passes updated Urban Forest Strategy with goal to increase canopy from 23% to 30% by 2050 (CityHallWatch, Dec 8, 2020)

Urban Forest and Tree Removal Bylaw. What more can be done in Vancouver to save the tree canopy? (CityHallWatch, April 16, 2014)



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