Opinion

They can light up your life ... or not

B efore you report a burned out street light, you must know the street light’s pole number. Without that number, your complaint will go nowhere.

A complaint that went nowhere has kept residents of Valleyview Avenue in Thornhill waiting more than six months to have their light replaced though they have all complained over and over to both regional district and BC Hydro.

While some wait time is understandable, a wait of more than six months is not only absurd but a hint something has gone awry.

Valleyview Avenue is a short street in Lower Thornhill. When its only light is out the entire street is dark. No other light exists on either side to compensate.

Here, courtesy of the Ministry of Transport’s Terrace office, are the steps to report a burned out street light in order to generate a work order with B.C. Hydro:

1.  Get the pole number. This is embossed on a credit card-sized metal tag and consists of two rows of numbers, about 14 numbers on each row.

2. Contact BC Hydro’s customer care line 1-800-224-9376 or the street light help line 1-877-453-6575 and give them the pole number. B.C. Hydro will then advise you who is responsible for that particular light -- regional district, municipality, or Ministry of Transport.

3.  Next, contact the group responsible for the light and ask them to go online to BC Hydro’s Street Light Information Management System (SLIM)  and file a repair request (using the pole number). Only the responsible party (and BC Hydro) can put the request into the program.

4.  Once the repair request is entered into SLIM it will automatically generate a work order for BC Hydro.”

For street lights in Thornhill, report your outed street light to regional district.  They in turn will pass your information along to their Works and Services (250-638-1358) who will pass your information along to B.C. Hydro who will initiate a work order and set the wheels in motion.

If you do not supply the pole number, some enterprising staff member has to look up the pole number on a plan or maybe even drive out to look at the pole. (Don’t expect anyone to do that.) Your report will certainly be slowed, more likely sidelined into oblivion.  Which is probably what happened in Valleyview’s case.

I’m betting no office informed Valleyview residents of the need to supply the pole number, guaranteeing they would wait forever to see the light.

In an email, BC Hydro offered this:

“1. While we do not have any set requirements as to how quickly a street light is repaired, we do have an expectation that once a work order is received the work is completed in 10 days. To be kept in mind is priority and emergency work takes immediate precedence over street lights.

2. The SLIM program received a phone call regarding this particular street light as opposed to an online request through the SLIM system. The agent entered the repair request immediately on 26 June 2012, which generated the repair work order overnight. The repair was completed on 12 July 2012. Close to the 10 days, but not perfect.

3. BC Hydro does take street light repair seriously hence the development of and investment in maintaining the SLIM program and the processes associated. Given the number of variations in street lighting around B.C. a single solution just isn’t possible, but we would welcome any feedback on the current set up as improvements are always welcome.”

The SLIM website allows the pole owner to check the pole’s repair history. SLIM showed no entry requesting repair of Valleyview’s only street light. So get that pole number before you report a light outage.

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