An interesting situation is unfolding as a a result of Nova Scotia Power’s report on the state of preparedness and response to post-tropical storm Arthur. (Read the report here).
It seems NSP is seeking certain rights with regards to “vegetation management” that threaten HRM authority over HRM trees.
In an unusual move, the UARB has granted HRM intervenor status as a result of the letter.
This seems like a potentially precedent-setting situation, and one that many of us will be watching closely.
Read the letter from Halifax Legal Services to NSP’s Regulatory Affairs Officer/Clerk below:
August 20, 2014
NS Utility and Review Board
1601 Lower Water St., Suite 300
Halifax, NS B3J 3S3
Dear Ms. Friis:
RE: Review of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated’s state of preparedness and response to post-tropical storm Arthur -July 2014
HRM has had an opportunity to review the Post-Tropical Storm Arthur Review of Nova Scotia Power’s Storm Response which Report was filed by NSPI in accordance with the Order of the Board dated July 16, 2014.
In the Report, NSPI makes a number of recommendations with respect to vegetation management which could negatively impact both HRM and its citizens. NSPI is seeking the creation of tree free rights of way and a prohibition on the planting of trees that are in conflict with power lines. Furthermore, NSPI seeks permission to have prescriptive rights to remove hazardous trees “threatening” power lines.
This could result in the ability of NSPI to remove trees on municipal and private property without any co-operative communication with property owners. It appears that NSPI is seeking to become the sole entity with the power to determine what is “threatening” or “in conflict” with a power line. This is a broad request which has the potential to negatively affect sensitive areas such as the Public Gardens, Point Pleasant Park, other HRM parklands, and streetscapes.
Currently, HRM and NSPI operate under the terms of a vegetative management program which recognizes that HRM has authority over HRM trees. Under the terms of the agreement, HRM and NSPI work co-operatively to safeguard the reliability of NSPI’s utility, and to promote a healthier, more vibrant and larger urban forest canopy along road right of ways within HRMs urban core. Through the operation of the agreement, HRM retains the right to inspect, monitor and ensure compliance with HRM policies, regulations, standards, and guidelines relating to HRM trees. HRM has concerns that the recommendations sought by NSPI could result in conflicts with the terms of the existing vegetative management agreement and negatively affect HRM trees, streetscapes, and parks and result in conflicts with HRM policies and regulations relating to trees.
Furthermore, HRM, through the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter has the primary authority for planning within its jurisdiction, this includes parkland planning and landscaping associated with new and existing development.
In light of the existing agreement and established practices, HRM did not anticipate that NSPI would seek the recommendations set out in paragraph 9.7 and 17.4 of the Report. Given that requested recommendations impact directly on the Municipality and exiting agreements and protocols, HRM seeks formal standing before the Board.
As the deadline to obtain formal standing has expired, HRM seeks leave of the Board to be added as an Intervenor due to the extenuating circumstances arising as a result of the NSPI August 19, 2014 Report. HRM submits that no prejudice will arise to any party due to the fact that the date for comments has not expired and stage two of the Review process is not yet underway.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Halifax Regional Municipality