Burying the power lines on Main Street is vital

letter-to-editorWhen the Port Dover Enhancement Association, the Port Dover Board of Trade and Norfolk County, in partnership, obtained funding from OMAFRA to revitalize Port Dover’s downtown, the project proposed to “significantly improve the appearance, safety and economic viability of the downtown” with the implementation of “upgraded street lighting, tree planting, directional signage, street furniture, and enhanced entry signage into the area.”
There was not enough funding to remove the unsightly overhead wires that still dominate the streetscape, drawing attention away from all the other improvements that were put in place.
Norfolk County assured the other two partners that the wires would be buried underground when the road was resurfaced, a date that now appears to be 2015.
The reconstruction project will include “all the water, surface water and sewer lines, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and four lane pavement” and, statistically, should be expected to last for thirty to fifty years. If the underground wiring is not installed at the same time, I cannot imagine that any of the estimated $6.2-million project later would be torn apart to accommodate rewiring.
If the overhead wiring is not replaced in the reconstruction process, it will look even more archaic and unsightly than it does now, seeming to make a very negative statement about the wisdom of the designers and the political decision makers.
A population study conducted by the Altus Group for the Board of Trade in 2010 indicated that “Port Dover has captured the largest share of residential growth among the six urban areas of Norfolk County over the past decade. By 2021 the population is expected to reach 13,775”.
Because Port Dover over the years has lost traditional brick and mortar industry, the community has become increasingly dependent on residential growth and on tourism for the tax base that contributes to the economic health of Norfolk County.
Regarding the spin off effect of tourism, Norfolk County has seen the benefit of such statistics in the development of local wineries, Eco Adventure, and festivals and special events throughout the County.
Along with specific businesses and tourist attractions, the aesthetic appeal of existing communities, such as Port Dover, is going to become increasingly important for sustained viability. Aesthetics matter. They are a major contributor to the desirability of a tourist destination and to the quality of life for local residents.
If Hydro One is unable or unwilling to honour the commitment made by Norfolk County and Norfolk Power, the County should utilize some of the money generated by the sale of Norfolk Power to accomplish what Port Dover citizens were assured, repeatedly, would be part of the reconstruction project.
To reiterate, burying the power lines is a vital part of significantly improving the “appearance, safety and economic viability of the downtown”.
We only can hope that Norfolk County will realize that being penny wise can be pound foolish, and that the County will keep the promise which clearly was made to the Enhancement Association, the Board of Trade, and this community.

Catherine “Katie” Buck
Port Dover


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