Pemberton seeking feedback on skate park location 

Impact of electric and magnetic fields on children is a concern

The Village of Pemberton wants to know how you feel about kids playing under power lines.

The village issued a notice last week asking for community feedback about locating a skate and bike park at the northwest corner of Portage Road and Cottonwood Street, an area located under or near 230 kV transmission lines.

Transmission lines are a regular source of concern in the Pemberton Valley. Residents were raising concern about them in June 2008, when a town hall meeting had some residents complaining that power lines traversing the property next to the new Pemberton Community Centre dipped too close to a parking lot.

Now those concerns have intensified as the village has developed a major bike park on that same property and has plans for a skate park across the street, at a location known as Lot 12.

At the Dec. 1 council meeting for the Village of Pemberton, mayor and council received a letter from a writer named Sabrita Cabrera, who objected to the location of the skate park and said "to have a skatepark under power-lines will not do the place justice."

Concerns continue to pour into the village about locating the skate park under the power lines. Caroline Lamont, Pemberton's manager of development services, said she's received about five e-mail correspondences from concerned citizens who worry about the safety of skateboarders and cyclists playing under the power lines.

"I think it's great that the majority are skateboarders in Whistler that are concerned if it was their community," she said, adding that three pieces of correspondence have come from concerned Whistlerites.

A report to council from Lamont at the Dec. 1 meeting outlined the various negative health effects of electric and magnetic fields, as found on the Canadian Cancer Society and Health Canada websites. Electric and magnetic fields are invisible lines of force found around electric equipment such as power cords or wires, according to the report.

The report notes that there's been a weak line drawn between electric fields and some types of childhood cancer. It also notes that there hasn't been a consistent relationship found between exposure to magnetic fields and cancer risks in either adults or children except that the risk of child leukemia seems higher when such exposure is higher than levels normally found in a home or in a community.

The World Health Organization has concluded that magnetic fields are a possible cause of cancer although experts have said there may be other explanations for the link between magnetic field exposure and child leukemia, according to the report.

The report notes that researchers have "not consistently measured" exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the same way, nor have they been able to rule out other reasons for an increase in child leukemia.

Pemberton has considered alternate sites for a skate park. Any site must be at least 1,500 square metres and within walking distance of the village core area, according to Lamont's report.

Alternate sites being considered include Pioneer Park, located next to municipal hall, but village staff have noted that trees and brush would need to be cleared away and the park has the potential to address other downtown enhancement needs. Lot 12 and the Community Centre Park are seen as "readily available" locations for a skate park, but both are subject to geotechnical reviews.



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