Beth Threlfall painted tiger and zebra stripes on poles near an intersection at Bay and Chambers Streets, near George Jay Elementary, to warn drivers about a crosswalk used frequently by young students as they travel to school and back. File contributed/ John Threlfall Beth Threlfall painted tiger and zebra stripes on poles near an intersection at Bay and Chambers Streets, near George Jay Elementary, to warn drivers about a crosswalk used frequently by young students as they travel to school and back. BC Hydro is no longer allowing poles to be painted. (Photo Courtesy of John Threlfall)

Hydro says ‘no’ to painted poles on Vancouver Island

BC Hydro shuts down decade-old public art initiative after complaints, safety concerns

From sunflowers and birds to Pokemon and geometric shapes, Fernwood’s art-covered poles are a hallmark of the artsy Victoria nook.

But a new decision from BC Hydro is putting an end to the resident-created instalments.

A decade ago the hydro pole art phenomena swept the little community, with dozens beautifying the otherwise unnoticeable urban necessities. BC Hydro was never directly involved in the community programs that encouraged pole painting, but it did give permission to those who asked.

READ ALSO: Pole painting sweeps Fernwood

As the art pole movement spread – picking up traction on Gabriola Island, in Nanaimo and other up-Island communities – it became clear that not everyone saw the painted poles as “beautification.”

“We had people supportive of it and people who were not supportive of it,” said Ted Olynyk, community relations manager for BC Hydro. “They didn’t like the art [because] they now saw the pole whereas before they didn’t see the pole.”

Complaints came in – but not just from residents. Hydro workers also had concerns about the paint degrading the integrity of the structure or hiding signs of damage.

Olynyk said the paint can retain moisture and disguise wear and tear. “From an operational and safety perspective, it can degrade the life of the pole,” he said.

Another concern was the quality of art. Not all of it was necessarily considered sightly, and even the quality pieces began to fade over time, the paint changing colour and settling into the grooves of the western red cedar. And liability is a consideration too – with poles typically located next to roads, Olynyk said artists could be at risk of being hit.

READ ALSO: Local artists dress up bus shelters across Victoria

BC Hydro won’t be coming into communities and destroying the artwork, but if residents complain, the art will be considered graffiti and painted over. Future requests to paint BC Hydro poles will be denied.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hybrid vessels part of B.C. Ferries’ plans to reduce emissions

Long-term goal of B.C. Ferries is to have a “standardized” all-electric fleet

Former runaway teen helps find missing youths through social media

Alex Meikle created the Facebook group Greater Victoria Missing & Runaway Teens

Vancouver Island students empowered to ‘shift the vote’ this election

VIU Students’ Union, B.C. Federation of Students launch ‘Our Time is Now’ campaign

OPINION: The smoke and mirrors of indigenous acknowledgments

We want action, we get nothing more than box-ticking

Saanich mayor begins living roof planting process

A garden will top Mayor Fred Haynes’ new home on Prospect Lake

VIDEO: ‘Thrones,’ ‘Fleabag’ top Emmys

Billy Porter makes history as first openly gay black man to win best drama-series acting Emmy

‘This is savage’: Strip club owner suspects arson in Williams Lake fire

Investigators on scene to determine cause of fire that destroyed at least two businesses

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Judge rules cops did not coerce statement from B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker

Defence wanted Vernon’s Curtis Sagmoen’s video interview with police deemed inadmissible

GRAPHIC: Tortured cat found with string around its neck in Kelowna alleyway

City crews have been contacted and are on the way to pick up the dead feline.

Firefighters may be needed for paramedic apartment access, experts say

Better coordination recommended in urban B.C. 9-1-1 calls

One-man Frankenstein show coming to Craigdarroch Castle

The Halloween special will kick off at the beginning of October

Let Downchild chase those blues away

Donnie Walsh and company celebrate the band’s 50th year with Vancouver Island tour

New standards, new maintenance company for south Vancouver Island roads

Province demanding higher standards as Emcon takes over road contract from Mainroad

Most Read