MRO Magazine

SaskPower eyes 500 trees for possible removal in White City


Industry

January 25, 2021
By Keith Borkowsky

Industries

Trees may add aesthetics and environmental benefits, but if they are planted too close to power lines they can cause power outages and fires, a SaskPower delegation told the Town of White City at its Jan. 11 council meeting.

The Crown corporation is assessing whether trees are impacting power lines in White City, and SaskPower arborist Blake Neufeld said while cutting down trees is a last resort, it is sometimes a necessity when they get too close to overhead power lines. Sometimes pre-emptive pruning can prevent the total loss of a tree.

“Trees and power lines don’t mix,” Neufeld said. “Tree contacts with power lines in storms cause 15 percent of our power outages province-wide. We are trying to do preventative maintenance on our easements. In the Town of White City, there are a lot of poplars and that requires a lot of cleanup.”

The tree maintenance is part of a provincial program which looks after more than 115,000 kilometres of power line right-of-ways. Within White City itself, Sask Power has two circuits it monitors, serving 2,600 homes and businesses. Approximately 500 trees are slated for removal in White City _ 400 of them are on private property while the other 100 are on municipal land _ though not all of those trees will fully disappear.

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“These town removals are not all big trees,” Neufeld said. “We have 10 larger ones while the rest of them are smaller. The way we identify a removal is sometimes we have … a multi-stem tree, and if we take three stems off, that counts as three trees and we leave the rest of the tree.”

Overall in White City 24,000 square metres of removal will be done to ensure the SaskPower lines are kept to safety standards. Neufeld said land owners are notified by SaskPower if work has to be done to prune or remove trees on their property. The assessor has already told affected landowners of the issue, and about 48-hours before the tree work is done, the contractor doing the work will also contact the landowner or resident advising of what is to take place. The goal is to have all tree work in White City completed by the end of March, when restrictions affecting elm trees come into force.

For those looking at planting trees or shrubs to define their properties, Neufeld said power lines should be considered as well as the type of tree used in the area. Trees need to be three to six metres away from a power line to prevent future problems, depending on how high a tree is projected to grow. Taller trees should be at least six metres away, with trees growing more than 12 metres in height being at least 15 metres away from the power line. Neufeld said by taking note of those guidelines, both trees and power lines can co-exist safely.

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Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE QUAD TOWN FORUM