On the other hand ... the city owns Ottawa hyrdo and takes the profits, might there be a conflict of interest in imposing costs on a utility it owns that doesnt affect how it imposes costs on other utilities? Ottawa Hydro profits are an important revenue source of council. If Hydro was privatized, then there is even less reason why electric wires in older areas should be exempt from being buried at times of major reconstruction.
And on my third hand ... those big wooden poles do separate cars from pedestrians, and protect the sidewalks from cars jumping the curb either when they are moving or to find parking. Already on Preston St motorists are parking on the new sidewalks (as there are no curbside poles!).