West End Substation
The downtown Vancouver electricity system needs upgrades and we're starting with the West End Substation – a new underground substation at the Vancouver School Board's Lord Roberts Annex site. It will replace the Dal Grauer Substation, which is aging and can't be rebuilt where it is, and ensure we can continue to provide clean, reliable power to about 30,000 homes and businesses downtown.
In early December, we're completing some soil testing in and around Nelson Park to help us design safety systems for the planned West End Substation.
When this work is taking place, you may need to detour from your usual route around or through the park, and you may be asked to temporarily relocate within the park. You'll be able to access the school and use the dog park while we're working.
Find out more in our project update [PDF, 203 KB].
We’re planning to build a new substation to power the West End community. In substations, high-voltage electricity is reduced to a lower voltage for use in your homes and businesses.
The West End Substation will be built at the Vancouver School Board’s Lord Roberts Annex property and connected to the existing power system through Nelson Park. Over recent years, we’ve worked with the Vancouver School Board, City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board to obtain the property agreements we need to build and power the new substation.
The new substation will be built to the highest safety standards and will contain state-of-the-art technologies. It's being designed to operate safely, efficiently and to rigorous environmental standards. Like hospitals and fire stations, it is being designed to withstand a very large earthquake - the kind that experts only expect to happen once in every 2,475 years.
Once the West End Substation is operating, it will work quietly and all you’ll see are the vents, and our employees visiting from time to time.
Our electricity system in downtown Vancouver is aging and needs upgrades to ensure our customers continue to have reliable power. We’re starting this important work with the West End Substation.
The new substation will replace the Dal Grauer Substation on Burrard Street, which was energized in 1953. Since then, the West End community has grown and its energy needs have changed. About 30,000 homes and businesses in the area are currently served by the Dal Grauer Substation, but this substation is nearing end-of-life, doesn’t meet current seismic standards, and can’t be rebuilt where it is.
Over recent years we’ve explored locations for a new substation downtown. Building the new West End Substation underground on public property means our property acquisition funds are being reinvested locally in new schools and park improvements.
Our alternative approach would be to build an above-ground substation that would occupy almost half a city block. In the West End, where most land is being used for housing, our approach protects the limited housing stock.
The West End Substation will be built at the Vancouver School Board’s Lord Roberts Annex property and connected to the existing power system with underground lines through Nelson Park.
We expect to start construction in 2025 and to complete the project in 2030.
Between now and start of construction, we’ll:
- Refine the substation design,
- Have our project reviewed by the B.C. Utilities Commission, and
- Continue working with the community and stakeholders to understand their interests and how we might mitigate the impacts of construction.
Once we start construction, we expect it will take about five years to build the new substation. For about three years, we’ll excavate the site and build the structure up to ground level, including the roof. This is a similar approach to building condo foundations and parking structures. Over the following two years, we’ll install the substation equipment underground, which will be less visible work.
We’ll also need to connect the substation to the existing electrical system downtown with new underground powerlines. To do that, we’ll dig two trenches through Nelson Park, install cables, and refill the trenches. This should take about two months, and will be completed during the winter when the farmers market has closed for the season and the park is less busy.
We know that the construction of a substation in the West End will have temporary impacts on those who live, work, play and learn in the community.
Through two previous rounds of consultation, completed in 2017 and 2018, we heard about the interests and concerns of the community, and made commitments to how we might mitigate those impacts. Review our consultation materials below.
We’ll continue to keep the community and folks who are interested in the project informed on our website, by attending community events, and with emailed updates. To stay informed, subscribe for email updates.
As our plans progress, we’ll share them with the community and ask again about possible impacts and mitigation. And well before we start construction, we’ll convene a Community Construction Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from the local neighbourhood. This group will meet regularly through to the end of construction to share community input and hear in-depth information about the project.
- Community notification - soil testing at Nelson Park, December 2023 [PDF, 203 KB]
- Project factsheet - synthetic ester oil transformers, September 2023 [PDF, 55 KB]
- Community notification - West End Substation project update, January 2023 [PDF, 8.0 MB]
- Community notification - equipment installation at Lord Robert Annex, January 2023 [PDF, 255 KB]
In 2019, the Vancouver Park Board completed an impact assessment study and engagement on our request for rights-of-way in Nelson Park. Read about the Vancouver Parks Board’s process and our response memo below.
- Community consultation discussion guide, May 2018 [PDF, 2.8 MB]
- Community consultation open house story boards, May 2018 [PDF, 2.7 MB]
- Communication consultation EMF information sheet, May 2018 [PDF, 101 KB]
- Community consultation summary report, June 2018 [PDF, 5.7 MB]
- Community consultation response memo, June 2018 [PDF, 2.4 MB]
- Community consultation notification materials, summarized March 2017 [PDF 3.9 MB]
- Community consultation discussion guide and feedback form, January 2017 [PDF, 4.7 MB]
- Community consultation discussion guide supplemental information, February 2017 [PDF, 1.2 MB]
- Communication consultation meeting notes, summarized March 2017 [PDF, 1.7 MB]
- Community consultation summary report, March 2017 [PDF, 914 KB]
- Community consultation consideration of input memo, March 2017 [PDF, 296 KB]
Project reports and documents
Stantec is an internationally-recognized, independent consulting firm. In 2017, it completed a preliminary study on our proposal for new underground substations in downtown Vancouver. The independent study considered two locations: the Lord Roberts Annex property and Emery Barnes Park.
We have since decided to proceed with the West End Substation project. Emery Barnes Park is not part of this project or a property BC Hydro is currently pursuing. The information in the study about the Lord Roberts Annex site is still applicable.
If you'd like to learn more about the project, please contact us at:
604 341 1304
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