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West Kelowna couple frustrated after cedars chopped down with little notice

A West Kelowna couple said BC Hydro removed two cedar trees near their home on Derrickson Place with little notice. .
A West Kelowna couple said BC Hydro removed two cedar trees near their home on Derrickson Place with little notice. . Brent Bessex

A West Kelowna couple says BC Hydro had two mature cedar trees in front of their home removed with little notice earlier this month.

Brent Bessex and his wife Linda Nicholas said in mid-December they received a generic letter at their home on Derrickson Place about plants and BC Hydro boxes with a small handwritten note in the margin that said BC Hydro would be removing their cedars to meet the requirements noted in the letter.

The couple said there was no date for the removal specified in the note.

Nicholas said she called BC Hydro the next day and left a message about the issue but the trees were still cut down within 48 hours of getting the notice while the pair were out.

“We basically got no notice, nothing, and all of a sudden I come home and all I see is this big ugly [transformer] box now,” said Bessex.

“Now we’ve got this big ugly box in the middle of our yard where we used to have two 40-foot cedars.”

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The pair said BC Hydro had simply trimmed back the vegetation in the past and the couple had volunteered to also complete trimming themselves.

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They said the trees were 40 years old and the BC Hydro transformer is not new.

“After 40 years, why not leave them? They weren’t impacting anything,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas said there was room for her to walk all the way around the transformer box and there were no branches overhanging.

“The contractor sent me a response saying that he was ordered to do it, this kind of work makes him really sick to cut down beautiful mature trees,” Nicholas said.

“I don’t have an issue with the contractor. He did a great job with the cleanup but they are gone, they are just gone, [after] 40 years.”

After Global News reached out to BC Hydro for comment, the utility said it is looking into the situation and will provide an update to Bessex and Nicholas as soon as possible.

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“We have reached out to our vegetation management team, and while it’s too early to know the details in this case, I can say generally that for safety reasons, vegetation must be removed if it is encroaching on electrical infrastructure,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Dag Sharman in an email to Global News.

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“Again speaking generally, typically that infrastructure is located within a BC Hydro right-of-way. As well, in a case like this, we would notify the customer beforehand to explain that the work needs to be completed and the safety reasons for it.”

On its website, BC Hydro said there must be a minimum of three metres of clearance in front of the doors of a transformer like the one near the couple’s home and a minimum of one-metre clearance on the other three sides.

– with files from Kimberly Davidson and Jeff Martin

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