BC Hydro and Museum at Campbell River staff within the Discovery Centre. BC Hydrp photo

BC Hydro and Museum at Campbell River staff within the Discovery Centre. BC Hydrp photo

BC Hydro’s Discovery Centre begins tenth year of operation

The Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Discovery Centre reopened on Feb. 2 and will be entering its 10th year of operation.

The Discovery Centre is run in collaboration with the Museum at Campbell River and also has an educational program in place to welcome visits from School District 72 teachers and students.

“The centre was seasonally closed for two months and we’re now looking forward to a year full of visitors and engagement, whether that’s locals looking for project updates or tourists from around the world that really love this area and all the features,” says BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson. “Hard to believe it’s been 10 years, and a good 10 years that’s exceeded our expectations. It’s been a nice community amenity.”

BC Hydro originally built the centre to engage the community on the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project. There are wall panels and videos that cover off when and how the facilities were built to how electricity is generated from water. Some of the Discovery Centre content has shifted towards the three proposed dam safety upgrade projects at John Hart, Ladore, and Strathcona. With the early works underway by the John Hart Dam, people can follow along and ask about the work, and also see the various construction reports posted on a bulletin board.

READ MORE: Campbell River’s Discovery Centre welcomes 100,000th visitor

The partnership between BC Hydro and Museum at Campbell River goes back to 2014, resulting in staffing and museum content within the Discovery Centre.

“We review our partnership with BC Hydro each year and continue to be pleased with how things continue to be well coordinated with the Discovery Centre,” says Museum at Campbell River Executive Director, Sandra Parrish. “An added bonus is visitors to the Discovery Centre are offered discount coupons for Museum admission. It is an excellent reciprocal relationship between our two organizations.”

BC Hydro developed an educational partnership years ago to cover the cost of the bus trip for School District 72 classes to go to the centre, Elk Falls, and the various walking trails. There was one year where about 800 students visited the Discovery Centre.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to learn about the watershed, watch large capital projects being built over time, and the impacts and benefits of a hydroelectric system,” says Watson. “Kids and teachers can then develop their own opinions about things. I try to be there when I can for the tours, and really enjoy the questions, especially from kids in grade 1 or 2 – out of the box thinking and they keep me on my toes!”

“We appreciate the opportunity for our students to learn more about electricity and where the power comes from, the social and environmental considerations, to possible career opportunities,” says School District 72 Superintendent, Dr Jeremy Morrow. “Hopefully, teachers and students will take advantage of this interesting learning opportunity.”

The centre, located beside the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge parking lot off Brewster Lake Road, will be open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until May 17. It will then be open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, through September. There is no admission fee. Just over 11,000 people visited the Discovery Centre in 2022.

READ MORE: BC Hydro’s operational and climate change resiliency

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