Site work has begun to prepare the area around the John Hart Dam for the upcoming John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade Project.
BC Hydro says work is considering public safety and the surrounding trails.
“The biggest recreational touch point is the parking lot just to the north of the John Hart Dam off Brewster Lake Road that forms the trail heads to the Dean Martin Trail and Lower Deliverance Trail, and the Aligator Rock Bike Trail,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “It is a popular spot for walkers and bikers. We recognize that and have been reaching out to key people for some time for their input.”
BC Hydro has been working with the City of Campbell River, BC Parks, and the River City Cycle Club to find ways to accommodate a new construction laydown location for that area, and slightly shift the parking lot and trail heads to the north while maintaining recreation access during the six years of project construction that starts in summer 2023.
“We’ve met a few times at the site and went over why the laydown area needs to be there, and through these discussions, we’ve found a solution that improves the current undefined parking lot with up to 14 defined parking spaces, and then just a slight shift in the trail heads,” says River City Cycle Club President, Bryan Yells. “This recreational area will remain open throughout the project construction period. Of course there’s the upcoming road closure across the dam for about six years so that means people will need to come from the north down the Gordon Road area.”
Safety signage and fencing will keep people out of the laydown area. There will be some short-term closures to this site for public safety when the tree falling at this location starts later this year or early next year. A new sign has been posted at the parking lot to explain the changes.
“The City is working with BC Hydro to develop a use agreement for the new parking lot given the existing site was built by folks over time without consent,” says City of Campbell River Director of Operations, Drew Hadfield. “This will formalize things, allow for information kiosks, and make it a better recreational site. Of course we always remind people that the John Hart Reservoir is the source of the City’s drinking water. Pack out what you pack in.”
Once the John Hart dam upgrade is complete the laydown area at this location will be remediated with vegetation. It is the only laydown location to the north side of the dam to help with construction logistics.
Tree felling will also be taking place at other locations at the site, such as close to the trails by the Elk Falls Provincial Park, for some power line relocations. Out of an abundance of care for public safety, there will be trail control along the section of the trail near the old Elk Falls parking lot that was in place prior to 2014, and to the trail that leads to the suspension bridge. Intermittent and short-term trail closures will be taking place from October 11 to 14, and October 17 to 22. The closures were coordinated with BC Parks and site signage will be in place.
“Our dam safety upgrade project continues to progress and we’re continuing to engage and inform the community as it moves along with the various public touch points, like recreation,” says Watson. “Things will continue to ramp up as we plan for project construction to start next summer.”
BC Hydro also advises there may be some short duration road closures across the dam, from now to next spring, for tree removal work and power line relocations.
You can learn more about the project work at the Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Discovery Centre or go to majorprojects.ca.