British Columbia

After a week without power, Salt Spring resident calls for better communication from BC Hydro

Thousands of other BC Hydro customers have been without power and in some cases without water, since a major wind storm struck the region one week ago.

The electricity has been out for thousands of Southern Gulf Island residents since last Thursday

Residents have been waiting a week for this downed power line across Churchill Road on Salt Spring Island to get fixed. (Michael Byers)

It could still be days before Michael Byers and other residents of the Southern Gulf Islands have electricity to turn on their lights.

Thousands of other BC Hydro customers have been without power, and in some cases without water, since a major windstorm struck the region one week ago.

Byers said he and his family had a tin of beans on toast for Christmas dinner at their home on Salt Spring Island. He and his wife have been using the showers at the swimming pool in Ganges because they have no hot water.

"We feel very lucky to have escaped unhurt, and we have a wood fireplace and we have water, so it's been a fairly pleasant Christmas, a very cozy family Christmas," Byers told CBC.

He said they are luckier than many on the island, who don't have running water or heat.

"A lot of the rest of Salt Spring was very badly hit. Thousands of trees down across power lines, and there are lots of very hardworking BC Hydro crews here on the island doing their best to deal with a very large mess," Byers said.

Hopes for better communication

Despite the workers' efforts, Byers said there have been issues with communication from BC Hydro.  

He said he was told a crew was assigned to fix the single downed line on his street days ago. But he and his 40 or so neighbours are still without power.

Mora Scott, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said these discrepancies sometimes happen because resources have to shift.  

"The reason something can show [as] assigned on the website and then change is because other work the crew was assigned to took longer than anticipated or additional damage was discovered," Scott said.

Scott said this storm has been the most damaging in the utility's history.

"We have had over 900 field workers working around the clock basically since the beginning of this thing, and we're really doing the best that we can to get everyone's power restored," she said.

Byers said the company needs to anticipate more storms due to climate change, and make infrastructure changes accordingly.

"This is going to become a familiar occurrence here in B.C., and like I said, the workers themselves have been doing a fabulous job, but at the management level BC Hydro needs to get better," Byers said.

Scott said the company reviews where it could make improvements after every storm, big or small.

About the Author

Micki Cowan

Reporter/producer

Micki is a reporter and producer at CBC Vancouver. Her passions are municipal issues and water security.