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OAK BAYNEWS Skate nationals coming here

History buried in park

Olympic darling Joannie Rochette helped Skate Canada announce 2011 nationals in Victoria. Sports, Page A17

Archaeological students from Camosun College to locate First Nation cairns in Uplands Park. News, Page A27 Watch for breaking news at www.oakbaynews.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2010

Danger below

Ready to rumble James Bay speedster Dan Harlow is tipped over by University of Victoria opponents Sean Duke, on left, and Phil Mack during Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Premier League rugby semifinal at Macdonald Park. The Vikes, 36-32 winners over defending champion James Bay that day, face Vancouver Capilanos in the Rounsefell Cup championship match tomorrow (May 15) at 3 p.m. at UVic’s Wallace Field. The game follows the Div. 1 final at 1 p.m. between James Bay and Capilano.

Recent gas line ruptures in Oak Bay and Victoria presented slim, but real possibilities of explosion Roszan Holmen News staff

Sharon Tiffin/News staff

Contentious wall to be replaced Terraced version to be constructed instead on Sylvan Ln. Vivian Moreau News staff

Long after Oak Bay council wrapped up its Monday night council meeting, three people stood together in the parking lot behind municipal hall. Oak Bay head of planning Roy Thomassen, resident Marion Cumming and contractor Mike Miller were deep in discussion. They were talking about what to do with a five-metre high boulder wall Miller’s company built for a Sylvan Lane couple.

Cumming voiced safety concerns about the wall to council in November and again at a public hearing two weeks ago. She was supported at the hearing by neighbours who echoed her fears about what might happen to the wall on the sloped property in an earthquake or after heavy rains. On Monday, council agreed to a further 60-day postponement against retroactively issuing a building permit for the wall, built a year ago at 63 Sylvan Ln. As well, council effectively turned thumbs down to revised plans submitted by owners Darren Behn and Olivia Dam that included a concrete catchment wall at the foot of the slope - to catch boulders should they tumble down.

“Council basically put it back to me to reject the application,” Thomassen said Tuesday after the meeting. He had pushed for the boulder wall to be removed by March 31. That didn’t happen, but discussions took place over what kind of wall would be acceptable. Thomassen preferred a terraced wall that would comply with a bylaw Oak Bay council passed last month limiting retaining wall heights to 1.2 metres. The after-council discussion must have resulted in a consensus because Thomassen said Tuesday that Behn and Dam are returning with new drawings, “that will comply with the bylaw, and that will be a terraced wall.” Continued on page A27

Don’t start your cars, don’t light anything, please leave. These were the words of advice given to Oak Bay residents on Nov. 22 after a root cutter, used to clear a sewer main, ruptured a gas line running through the pipe. On May 5, another root cutter ruptured a gas line inside a utility pipe, this time a storm drain in Victoria. Emergency crews evacuated Mayfair Mall, a hotel and nearby residents. The accident caused disruptions to business and traffic, but also left open the possibility of an explosion. “There is potential for an explosion anytime you have gas,” said Ron Stewart, of B.C. Institute of Technology, qualifying that he knows of no incidents of explosions linked to gas-line hits. “When gas and air mixes in the right levels, and you add a spark to it, it’s going to explode,” said Stewart, a pipefitting and plumbing instructor. “The more gas, the larger the explosion ... It could take out a city block if it’s big enough, if the volume of gas is there.” Gas becomes flammable when its concentration is between four and 14 per cent, he explained. For this reason, low levels of gas present a bigger risk of catching fire because there’s more oxygen to fuel the flame. Storm and sewer pipes are mostly filled with air. Every time there is an opening in the pipe, more oxygen comes in, he said. “As you introduce gas, at some point along that pipe, you’re going to have the correct mix.” A spark from a passing car could ignite the gas escaping from catch basins or other openings in the pipe, he said. Joyce Wagenaar, director of marketing communications for Terasen Gas, said the company is working with Oak Bay and Victoria to detect any other potential intersections between gas lines and other pipes. These incidents are extremely rare, she emphasized. Continued on page A27

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BCYCNA - Best Sports Photo, Sharon Tiffin