The popular Canyon View Trail loop through the old John Hart powerhouse footprint will be open in October.
Work is also about to begin on decommissioning the temporary Station View Trail in mid-September.
“I’ve had a few enquiries on when the trail loop may open up,” said BC Hydro spokesperson. Stephen Watson. “We had a trail geotechnical issue come up when planning to route the trail into the old and remediated penstock corridor, and decided to move the trail towards the river slightly so its foundation is sound, mainly for the new stairs to be installed. To allow for this change, we are now looking to have the trail loop open around the last half of October. We appreciate the community’s patience.”
The Canyon View Trail was one of the top community points of interest during the planning for the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project. BC Hydro built the temporary Station View Trail in 2013, which was modified in 2014 by project contractor InPower BC, to enable trail users to continue to use an overall Canyon View Trail loop during the five years of construction work. Since April of this year, the broader trail loop has been closed through the John Hart property site for the removal of the old hydroelectric facility.
Work to remove and decommission the temporary Station View Trail will begin on BC Parks property and will begin Sept. 16. The trail will be closed off from where the Station View Trail branches off from the Canyon View Trail beside the Campbell River, downstream of the old powerhouse area.
“The revised Canyon View Trail and new public lookout where the old powerhouse used to be should be a wonderful community amenity when finished,” said Watson. “I was at the lookout area last week and it’s a great view, including seeing directly below a big school of Pink Salmon holding peacefully in the old powerhouse discharge pool. Within the lookout there will also be five large interpretive panels to describe the old and new facility, operations, fish, and Indigenous Peoples, including the meaning behind the two new totems from the We Wai Kai Nation and Wei Wai Kum Nation that will be placed there.”
The trail will pass through a short length of fenced security corridor, where the old powerhouse once stood, and to the foot of the hill of the old penstock corridor. From there it will go up sets of stairs before cutting across northward and above the new tunnel outlet area, and join into the existing Canyon View Trail.
“We’re in the process of refreshing the area around the John Hart public parking lot by the river, and the trail to the old powerhouse area, including four more interpretive and wayfinding panels,” said Watson. “This area by the old powerhouse will coincide nicely with the information within our Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Discovery Centre located at the Elk Falls parking lot.”
BC Hydro is also restoring public river access, for river rafts, kayaks and canoes only, below the old powerhouse on the right bank of the river and where Destiny River Adventures currently puts in. Public river access may be re-established in October as well. Originally, people could enter the river near the entrance to the canyon, off a rock outcrop, just upstream of the old powerhouse. Watson said there will be no swimming, tubing or fishing allowed within the old powerhouse discharge pool because of safety risks from the six old draft tubes and the downstream rocks on the right bank of the river, and to lessen the disturbance to salmon habitat.
“We really hope people obey the signage or we’ll have no alternative but to close and lock the gate to the river,” added Watson.
Watson says Hydro has been consulting on the trails and river access with First Nations, and working with the two-dozen member Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Liaison Committee, including representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, City of Campbell River, Greenways Land Trust, Campbell River Environmental Committee, and Destiny River Adventures.