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)

Fernwood’s painted poles no more

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 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

Bag containing meat, sewing needles found by dog owner in Cordova Bay

Saanich police don’t believe it’s a trend

UVic creates emergency bursary for students facing hardships due to COVID-19

Students can apply by emailing the financial aid office

Colwood Spring Clean-Up postponed, branch drop-off continues

Strict measures in place for branch drop-off

Saanich teen earns $100,000 commerce scholarship to the University of Calgary

Matias Totz is graduating from St. Michaels University School

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read