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Local bands sign on to support big hydro project

Two of the city’s First Nations bands have signed on to support the proposed billion-dollar John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project.

The Campbell River and Cape Mudge Indian Bands both signed impact benefit agreements with BC Hydro on June 22.

This major milestone will provide both bands with a number of benefits including training and education funds, economic development opportunities related to the construction of the project, and also wider involvement in BC Hydro’s watershed activities.

One of the examples of the benefits is for the bands to be more directly involved with BC Hydro in the preservation and enhancement of salmon stocks within the Campbell River hydroelectric system.

“This (agreement) means a lot for our improving relationship with BC Hydro,” said Bob Pollard, Campbell River Indian Band Chief. “It is a sign for a better future for us in our involvement with John Hart, and for the longer term, participation and a role within the lower sections of this hydroelectric watershed for important symbols to our community like salmon.”

The agreement is the culmination of many meetings and discussions with the two First Nations, and lays the foundation for the continuation of mutually beneficial relationships.

“It has been a long and complicated process to get where we are today. It takes time for important decisions like this to allow for better understandings on both sides,” said Cape Mudge Chief Ralph Dick. “Our people feel we are now in a better place with BC Hydro and believe this project will be good for the We Wai Kai. It will also be good for the wider Campbell River community.”

The John Hart Generating Station has provided clean, reliable power for more than 65 years. BC Hydro is investing $1-$1.2 billion in the facility to ensure it continues to deliver value for years to come.

Rich Coleman, Ministry of Energy and Mines said, “The signing of this agreement…is another positive step towards beginning the construction of the John Hart Replacement project next summer. This project will improve safety and the reliability of John Hart and will create 400 jobs per year over the five years of construction.”

The proposed project is to construct a replacement water intake at the John Hart Dam, replace the three 1.8-kilometre long pipelines with a 2.1-kilometre tunnel, construct a replacement generating station beside the existing station and a new water bypass facility. The existing station may continue to operate during the construction phase and then transfer operations during the commissioning period to the new facility.

BC Hydro is working towards receiving all project regulatory approvals by spring 2013 and beginning construction in summer 2013.

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