Last week I had a chance to drive up to Campbell River to visit the John Hart Generating Station Replacement project. The dam and powerhouse were constructed in 1947 and are in need of replacement – the prime contractor for the work is SNC-Lavalin, and Hatfield Consultants is providing environmental management services. The project is necessary for a number of reasons, including mitigating seismic risk – particularly related to the wooden penstocks. The project will include a new water intake system and a water bypass facility. The most noticeable changes will result from the replacement of the above-ground 1.8 km long penstocks, which will be replaced with a tunnel up to 100 metres below surface, 8 metres in diameter, and 2.1 kilometres long. Two surge towers will be removed leaving just one for overflow. The generating station will be replaced with an underground powerhouse. The net result will be a safer, more efficient, and environmentally enhanced power generating facility. Since much of the old infrastructure will be replaced and moved underground, a lot of the site will be restored to its natural setting.
One of the unique features of this facility is its proximity to one of BC’s most popular parks and important salmon rivers – the Elk Falls Provincial Park and Recreation Area. There is an extensive trail network throughout the area, much of it recently improved . Campbell River (and north) are an under appreciated and under-visited part of our province and definitely worth a visit.