BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson, and Construction Officer Bill Wright, at the new campground site being developed beside Upper Campbell Reservoir. BC Hydro photo

BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson, and Construction Officer Bill Wright, at the new campground site being developed beside Upper Campbell Reservoir. BC Hydro photo

New Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground set to open

The Strathcona Dam Campground is scheduled to permanently close on Nov. 30 and the new replacement site — called the Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground — looks to open by the end of December.

The new site was possible due to a partnership between BC Hydro and Mosaic Forest Management.

“We are really pleased with the new site and seeing it transform into an ideal campground with outstanding views,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson.

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It was announced in 2018 that BC Hydro’s Strathcona Dam Campground, which opened in 1996 and has about 30,000 visitors per year, would be closed. The rationale was the site would become a designated construction zone for the upcoming Strathcona Dam Water Discharge Project as well as its immediate proximity to the dam following a severe earthquake.

RELATED: Design work underway on Strathcona Dam upgrade near Campbell River

Watson says BC Hydro looked at numerous potential relocation sites, and used criteria such as cost, the ability for the new campsite to be safely developed with adequate setback from reservoir operations, potential community support, being close to Highway 28, close to BC Hydro’s facilities at Strathcona Dam, continued provision of free camping, and having attractive and spacious sites with good views.

BC Hydro says they consulted with First Nations and engaged stakeholders and government agencies on the new sites, and found the formerly-known Little America site was the best location. It was an unauthorised site that was created and subsequently closed down by BC Hydro and TimberWest in 2015.

“It’s a great site with about two-dozen campsites with some overflow parking, trails, three different toilet areas for a total of six toilets, interpretive panels, but most of all, great views looking up the watershed toward the Strathcona Provincial Park,” says Watson. “We started work at the end of September and the schedule looks to have things complete for the campground opening by the end of December.”

Watson said the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the campground opening timing.

The new campground is located on BC Hydro and Mosaic lands. BC Hydro is building the campground and will operate it as a Public Use Management Area, identical to how BC Hydro manages the old campground. The maximum stay is two weeks. Information about the new campground will be updated at https://www.bchydro.com/community/recreation_areas/strathcona_dam.html.

“Creating opportunities for safe recreational enjoyment of our private forest lands is a core component of Mosaic’s community partnerships program,” said Mosaic Director Sustainability, Molly Hudson. “Mosaic operates 12 not-for-profit campsites on our lands across Vancouver Island that people can enjoy, and this one, through collaboration with BC Hydro, will be a great addition to our offerings.”

BC Hydro’s Strathcona Dam Water Discharge Project continues to track on schedule with construction, pending approvals over the next few years, beginning in 2024 and lasting for about three years. To find out more about the project go to www.bchydro.com/crdamsafety or majorprojets.ca, or visit the Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Discovery Centre beside the Elk Falls suspension bridge parking lot.

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The new Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground, located along the bottom shoreline of this photo, will have great views of the watershed. BC Hydro photo

The new Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground, located along the bottom shoreline of this photo, will have great views of the watershed. BC Hydro photo

BC Hydro’s construction of their Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground is in the final touches. It also features an informal boat launch for 4x4 vehicles only. The site may open by the end of December. BC Hydro photo

BC Hydro’s construction of their Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground is in the final touches. It also features an informal boat launch for 4x4 vehicles only. The site may open by the end of December. BC Hydro photo