Yes, but with conditions

Authority BC Hydro and Power Authority

Gerald lived on an acreage in a quiet setting near the end of a dead-end road. Gerald came to us because he was concerned about the amount of traffic using a utility right-of-way access road, which branched off the end of the street in front of his property. Gerald explained the right-of-way road was owned by BC Hydro, who had granted his neighbour permission to use the right-of-way because no other public access road existed. Gerald had no objection to his neighbour’s use of the right-of-way, but was concerned that some of the other surrounding land owners were using the right-of-way to access their properties and they did not have BC Hydro’s permission. The increased amount of traffic decreased his enjoyment of his property. Gerald told us he approached BC Hydro with his concerns in 2014. After speaking with BC Hydro’s representatives Gerald believed they had agreed to build a gate across the rightof-way in order to limit the amount of traffic.

By the time Gerald approached our Office, several years had passed and the gate still had not been built. Gerald felt BC Hydro acted unfairly by promising to build the gate and failing to follow through. We asked BC Hydro to clarify whether they had promised to build the gate and to explain what they told Gerald about the steps they intended to take. We learned BC Hydro was unaware initially about the amount of both authorized and unauthorized traffic that had been using the right-of-way. After Gerald drew their attention to his concerns, BC Hydro told him they intended to re-examine their right-of-way access arrangements and would consider Gerald’s request for a gate. BC Hydro’s communications with Gerald made it clear they did not make an unconditional promise either to build a gate or allow one to be installed. Instead, over the next three years BC Hydro studied the traffic and access issues and spoke with its stakeholders, including Gerald, in order to design a plan of action. After considering the feedback they received, BC Hydro told Gerald it would allow installation of a gate provided certain conditions were satisfied. One of the conditions BC Hydro required was that written consent be obtained from several stakeholders with a direct interest in accessing the right-ofway. Unfortunately for Gerald, all of the stakeholders did not give their consent and the gate was not installed.

Despite Gerald’s disappointment about the gate, we believe BC Hydro acted fairly when they listened to Gerald’s concerns and developed a plan to address them. It was understandable that BC Hydro tried to balance Gerald’s interests with the interests of the other stakeholders by obtaining their consent. We concluded that listening to the points of view of all the stakeholders, including Gerald, and balancing their concerns was a good example for all authorities to follow when attempting to address a complex situation with many interested parties whose interests need to be considered.

Category Driving and Transportation
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2017