There’s no bigger eyesore in River Heights than Manitoba Hydro’s electrical substation on the south side of Grant Avenue between Harrow and Stafford Streets. This industrial blight on the landscape has been there for longer than I can remember.
But that could change soon as major renovation work has been going on there for quite some time now. PCL Construction, the main contractor, has been working on the site since early summer 2010 doing equipment upgrades. Four aging transformers are being salvaged and two new ones are being installed.
As Hydro ponders controversial construction work on their Bipole III project, this is an opportunity for the company to become good corporate citizens and make a positive investment in our neighbourhood.
It is long overdue work for this old substation that was nearing the end of its useful life.
It was originally built by the old Winnipeg Hydro company in the 1920’s to receive electrical power from the Slave Falls Generating Station on the Winnipeg River at Pointe du Bois.
The project has been complicated by the fact that the substation cannot be shut down during renovation work. As well as the new transformers, nearly all the aged electrical components will be replaced including a new digital control system. These upgrades have become necessary to meet the increased capacity of today’s electrical demands.
Manitoba Hydro held a couple of open houses a short while ago to inform the public of the planned changes, and artistic renderings were shown of the completed project and how it would be a better fit for the community.
Part of the contract is to build a fancy fence around the site upon completion, combined with boulevard landscaping to improve aesthetics. Although it won’t completely obliterate Hydro’s equipment from view, it will at least lessen the impact to the eye and should make a marked improvement to the overall outlook and feel of the neighbourhood.
Scott Powell, public affairs manager for Hydro. says another bonus from the new equipment is that it will be much quieter. The low humming noise emanating from the site that you may have noticed, could be a thing of the past once all work is complete.
Those occasional power outages may also become a thing of the past too, like the one on a Saturday evening in May that forced an early closure of several Corydon Avenue restaurants.
The project is on schedule for completion in October of this year and it seems it will make a marked improvement in safety, reliability and neighbourhood beautification.