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BC Hydro pole relocation pushes Starlight Stadium to 2024 for expanded sports season

Seating expansion to 10,000 targeted for later in 2023 | Full large-game sports possible in 2024

hydro pole, stadium
BC Hydro transmission pole with lines above the Starlight Stadium [technical file photo from 2017 / Island Social Trends]

Monday June 20, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [See update in March 2023]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Due to the technical work it will take to relocate a BC Hydro transmission pole and associated transmission lines, the targeted Starlight Stadium expansion to 10,000 seats might push the available of that many seats for big-sports-game crowds into the 2024 season.

Langford Mayor Stew Young is already resigned to that, not expecting the stadium expansion construction to begin until BC Hydro has done their bit. Last month he was upbeat about the announcement that Rugby 7s is relocating their games to BC Place in Vancouver (that was a World Rugby decision, based on their need for larger seating capacity). The Rugby Canada head office is remaining in Langford.

Rugby Canada said back in April that more professional and international games will be able to come to Langford once the stadium expansion is complete.

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Transmission tower in Langford needs relocation in order to expand Westshills Stadium. [West Shore Voice News 2017]

World Rugby is combining the men’s and women’s events in all cities around the world that the tournament takes place. BC Place seats 54,400 which was part of the success of FIFA awarding Vancouver as a host city for the 2026 World Cup.

Construction to start Fall 2022:

“Work (by BC Hydro) will begin this fall, with the scheduled completion April 2023 for the hydro move, pending any delays out of our control,” says Yari Nielsen, Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities, City of Langford.

Several possible delay-impacts:

Large infrastructure projects such as relocating large transmission towers and 138kV lines can run into delays that might arise due to factors such as weather, the required skill level of labour availability, relocation equipment availability, and available dates for the required outage periods that will impact large sections of local and regional residents and businesses.

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Starlight Stadium in Langford held their first opening sports event (PFC home game) since the pandemic started on July 30, 2021. [Island Social Trends]

BC Hydro’s work:

“We are going to relocate the pole,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk. “That’s a transmission line, it’s a 138kV transmission line, and it feeds the whole Western Communities.”

Indeed, when lines are actually ready to be moved, there will be scheduled power outages for large chunks of the west shore and other parts of south Vancouver Island.

The City of Langford (and/or BC Hydro) will want to do an effective public relations campaign ahead of such a widespread outage.

No timeline for completion yet:

pacific fc, july 30 2021
BC hydro pole at centre field (partly painted purple for Pacific FC) has become part of the Starlight Stadium landscape. [Island Social Trends – July 2021]

“As we haven’t tendered out the stadium expansion yet, and are still in pre-design, we do not have a timeline for that completion. However, we are hoping it will be later in 2023,” said Nielson.

Cost of the project:

The City of Langford is set to contribute $4 million for relocation of the pole. That’s half of the $8 million overall project cost to expand the stadium to 10,000 seats (from the current 5,000 / up to 6,500 depending on use of temporary spaces).

Moving the pole has long been in the mayor’s sightline. The pole has been there since 1974. Starlight Stadium (formerly Westhills Stadium) and nearby buildings were constructed in the decades that followed. Langford’s goal to be a national sports capital grew along with the stadium (as well as sport-related usages at Bear Mountain Resort).

Pacific FC also expanding:

Pacific FC continues to call Starlight Stadium home, but the team owners are also launching their second Canadian Premier League (CPL) team in Vancouver starting next year in order to take advantage of a larger stadium crowd.

Bigger concerts:

For several years, Mayor Stew Young has been talking about bringing larger concerts to Starlight Stadium. In particular, he’s really hoping to bring Bryan Adams to Langford to do a show. Therefore, a few more years in the making for that.

Good for the local economy:

An expanded stadium is certainly good news for local businesses, in particular the food and hospitality sectors.

Pacific FC, home game July 20, 2019 season, Westhills Stadium
Second transmission pole at Starlight Stadium would also need to be moved so that lines don’t cross over Langford Parkway. [July 2019 file photo – Mary P Brooke]
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Hydro pole at Starlight Stadium (Aug 2021 / Island Social Trends].
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