Stephen Watson, one of the eight tour guides, will be one of the many BC Hydro and InPower BC staff welcoming the public to check out the underground John Hart powerhouse on Sept. 16.

Fourth and final public tour of John Hart project will feature the massive underground component

  • May. 31, 2018 1:30 a.m.

This is the year people have been hoping for.

On Sept. 16, lucky ticket holders will be able to go into an underground tunnel and see the massive underground powerhouse that will be the feature of the John Hart project community site event. This may also be the last time the public will have the opportunity to see it.

“It has been by the far the most common question over the years – when can I go underground and have a tour?” said BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson. “We have not been able until now, given the nature of the underground site and the activity. This September, the project will be at the right stage and key operating areas will be cordoned off for safety. People will get a real appreciation for the size and scope of the project in this rare tour opportunity. The powerhouse is as long as a football field and is 10 storeys high. It’s amazing to see.”

BC Hydro and project contractor InPower BC are again working together to host the fourth and final community site event. The event has attracted about a thousand people each year though Watson expects interest from many more people this year given the underground feature. To manage a successful event, admission will be through a limited number of tickets. People will need to get the event tickets from the Tidemark Theatre, which go on sale on July 11. Only people who have bus tickets will be able to access the John Hart site.

“We really appreciate the Tidemark helping us out with this event. The tickets will be $5 and all proceeds will go to scholarships for North Island College apprenticeship students,” said Watson. “So you will see a neat hydroelectric facility and know the proceeds are going to a great educational cause. People will be able to select one of the 31 bus trips that will leave Shoppers Row, in front of Spirit Square, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. We will only be able to take up to 1,240 people in this rare opportunity.”

“We’ve been following this project for years and it will be great to see it in the final stages just before it operates,” said North Island College’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Randall Heidt. “We are very appreciative to BC Hydro for offering the ticket proceeds, up to $6,200, to support future students and tradespeople on the North Island.”

The round-trip tour is expected to take about 70 minutes and includes going down by bus into the main access tunnel to the powerhouse, walking through the powerhouse and then looping back through the gate gallery to the main access tunnel to be bused out of the tunnel and back to Spirit Square. People must be 10 years of age or older, and there are no mobility aides allowed given the site slope and stairs. People must be mobile.

The $1.093 billion John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project remains on schedule and on budget to be commissioned in October. Parts of the facility, such as the low level outlet valves on the downstream side of the John Hart dam, have already been commissioned. BC Hydro is replacing the 70-year-old facility for better seismic withstand, maintaining power generation reliability, and to protect downstream fish habitat.

There are no plans to have public tours once the underground facility is commissioned in October.

For more information of the John Hart project community site event, please contact Stephen Watson at steve.watson@bchydro.com or 1-250-755-4795.

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