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New substation meets growing demand as Mount Pleasant booms

New substation demonstrates leading-edge seismic and environmental construction

It's been called Vancouver's first suburb, but today Mount Pleasant is one of the city's most vibrant and fastest-growing neighbourhoods.

Stretching from Cambie Street to Clark Drive, and from Great Northern Way and 2nd Avenue to 16th Avenue and Kingsway, Mount Pleasant has seen an explosion of development since the 1990s. It's a neighbourhood in transition, from the landmark Olympic Village development to the hip restaurants and retailers that populate the SoMa (South Main) neighbourhood around the intersection of Main, Kingsway and Broadway.

With that growth comes a growth in electricity demand. Over the next 10 years, electricity demand in the Mount Pleasant/South False Creek area is expected to increase by almost 40 per cent. And in the next 30 years, it could grow by as much as 82 per cent.

The first new substation in Vancouver since 1984

To meet that growing need, BC Hydro is in the final stages of construction on the new Mount Pleasant Substation, the first to be built in the city of Vancouver since 1984.

The new station is also the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-standard substation in BC Hydro's system. It's an example of how we're keeping an eye on greenhouse gas emissions when we upgrade facilities or construct new ones like Mount Pleasant Substation. It's the same approach we took when looking at new facilities in Port Alberni, Burnaby, and Prince George.

Substation part of larger plan to improve reliability in downtown Vancouver

The Mount Pleasant Substation is part of the Vancouver City Central Transmission Project the most significant investment that BC Hydro has made in central Vancouver's electrical system in almost 30 years. The project also involved installing new transmission lines, crossing seven kilometres under city streets to connect Mount Pleasant with two existing substations, Cathedral Square Substation in downtown Vancouver, and Sperling Substation at Arbutus and West King Edward Avenue.

And it wasn't just city streets.

The project also required pulling a transmission pipe bundle under the waters of False Creek, beginning near David Lam Park in Yaletown and ending on the other side of False Creek near Laurel Street and 7th Avenue in Mount Pleasant.

The new substation is now one of the most seismically safe buildings in the Lower Mainland, designed to function even after a major earthquake. It's also planned to help speed the restoration of power to customers in Vancouver in the event of a disaster, by adding redundancy and resiliency to the power transmission system that supplies the city.

  • Mount Pleasant Substation is scheduled to be in service in spring 2014.
False Creek pipe bundle illustration
An 850-metre pipe bundle, equivalent to 8.5 Canadian Football fields, was pulled under False Creek.

Vancouver City Central Transmission Project, by the numbers

Building a new substation of this calibre and putting new transmission infrastructure under city streets is no small job. Check out just what it took to make it happen:

  • This two-storey substation was built with enough concrete for a 20-storey residence and rebar for five office buildings.
  • Each transformer in the substation (there are two) is two storeys high and weighs 250 tonnes — as much as 50 elephants.
  • A 24-wheel trailer was used to transport the transformers to the substation.
  • An 850-metre pipe bundle, equivalent to 8.5 Canadian Football fields, was pulled under False Creek.
  • Mount Pleasant Substation will supply enough electricity for 30,000 to 40,000 homes.

Mount Pleasant Substation welcomes community at open house

Major construction like building a substation can be challenging for more than just the project team. We recognize the significant impacts that the project has had on the surrounding neighbourhood.

As part of our efforts to say thank you to residents and businesses located around the substation, the project team has organized an open house for Mount Pleasant Substation at Alberta Street and West 6th Avenue on September 14, 2013. The local community will get a special chance to tour the substation, see the equipment up close and safely explore the substation before it's energized and in service.

If you live or work near the substation, be sure to come by between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on September 14 to take a substation tour, meet the project team and see the inside of British Columbia's newest electrical substation.