Report: B.C. neighbours disagree over trees as springtime electrical incidents rise
VANCOUVER: A new BC Hydro report finds many British Columbians are having springtime squabbles with their neighbours over unruly trees and overgrown vegetation, which can sometimes pose a risk near overhead power lines or electrical equipment.
The report titled "War of the roses: Neighbour disagreements and 'backyard logging' close calls with electricity heat up in spring" [PDF, 370 KB] finds whether sharing a property line in a detached home or living in a condo or apartment building, the vast majority of British Columbians must deal with having neighbours. It turns out most (56 per cent) find something their neighbours do downright annoying, with differences in opinion about overgrown trees, hedges, gardens, and lawn décor becoming more common in the spring.1
But neighbour disputes do not end there. Other neighbour annoyances include noise (65 per cent), parking disagreements (34 per cent) and not respecting property boundaries (23 per cent). Lack of maintenance of a lawn or garden such as infrequent lawn mowing is common too (16 per cent), especially in Northern B.C (25 per cent). Ugly décor on a condo balcony or in a yard was also a common complaint (12 per cent), as well as garbage and recycling problems (12 per cent).
When it comes to the outdoors, over 20 per cent said they have noticed their neighbours' trees or bushes are overgrown, and of those 22 per cent said they are growing into or too close to power lines or electrical equipment. While most asked their neighbours to do something about the unruly vegetation – and many complied – of those whose neighbours did not act, 27 per cent went ahead and trimmed the vegetation themselves, without their neighbours' permission.
BC Hydro data shows during the spring there is typically an increase in 'backyard logging' electrical contact incidents or near misses, as many take trimmers into their own hands to scale back trees or vegetation near overhead power lines or equipment, without understanding the hazards and rules to do this task safely. In fact, 71 per cent are unaware of the basic vital safety rules for performing work in their yards near electrical equipment. This might be why this year there have already been a handful of dangerous close calls with electricity in B.C. backyards, and the number of incidents is likely much higher because most go unreported. The most common backyard electrical incidents involve tree trimming – with branches falling on power lines causing power outages in many cases.
While BC Hydro cannot fix most neighbour disputes, it is urging the public to make safety around power lines a priority, especially as the weather heats up and British Columbians spend more time outdoors. BC Hydro suggests British Columbians keep in mind the following while working in their yards:
- To trim or not to trim: Customers should call a Certified Utility Arborist for any vegetation near transmission or distribution lines, or for vegetation within three metres of the service line to their home. There are several vegetation contractors that can help homeowners to access and safely prune vegetation near BC Hydro wires.
How to distinguish a line:
- Overhead distribution lines consist of wires that are supported by utility poles about 10 metres high. These poles are most often made of wood but are sometimes concrete.
- Transmission lines carry large quantities of electricity from generating stations to the cities where the electricity is used. Transmission lines are thick and attached to tall steel structures. There are also wooden poles that hold up transmission lines that can sometimes look like the ones that support distribution lines, but they are higher.
- Service lines are a bundle of electrical wires or cables run from BC Hydro's power pole to the connection at your house. Because the lines are higher than your home, the cables that go to your home often drop, descending from a higher spot to a lower spot. If your home does not have a service drop, it is supplied by similar cables running underground.
- Call or click before you dig: If planting, plan ahead and remember to always call or click BC1 Call at least three days before digging to locate any underground electrical or other infrastructure. Make a request online at bc1c.ca or call 604 257 1940 or 1 800 474 6886 outside the Lower Mainland.
For more information, visit bchydro.com.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468
1Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 800 British Columbians from Feb 23 to 27, 2023 margin of error 3.46%.