The John Hart Generating Station Project is scheduled to be completed and operational this fall, but it’s only one of many projects BC Hydro has been undertaking lately. Photo courtesy BC Hydro

BC Hydro happy with ‘average’ year

A look back at 2017 and forward into the future for local projects

Stephen Watson of BC Hydro says despite all of the major regional projects and milestones met in 2017, overall it was an “average” year, which is just the way they like it.

“We don’t like it really dry or really wet,” Watson told council at their final meeting of the year while giving Campbell River city council a rundown of the corporation’s activities in the region throughout 2017 and highlighting what’s coming up in the new year in terms of work yet to be completed and those projects’ effects on the community.

“It was another important year for BC Hydro in terms of the Campbell River system,” Watson says.

The most obvious of the projects on the system is the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project, which Watson says “is still tracking on time and on budget, and will go operational in the fall of next year.”

The “big acheivement” on that project in 2017, Watson says, “was the completion of the rock removal from the tunnels. We finished that in June, so that’s a big milestone for us.”

One of the things Watson is most proud of on the John Hart project was the completion of the “in-reservoir” work completed by their construction contractors – SNC Lavalin, Aecon Group, Frontier Kemper and Hatfield Consultants.

“That work was a big risk for the project, but they were able to contain that work zone and didn’t have one water quality issue within the reservoir,” Watson told council. “Given the city’s domestic water intake is only a couple hundred metres away, that was a big achievement and we’re very pleased about that.”

The corporation also completed the decommissioning and removal of the Salmon River Diversion Dam last year, as well as completing the seismic upgrading of the substation on 7th Avenue.

“We found the south and north slopes could slump or fail in an earthquake, so we completed that work, too.”

The big projects coming up for BC Hydro in the region going forward – other than getting the generating station fully operational, obviously – is the beginning of the seismic upgrading on the rest of the dams in the Campbell River system and finishing the work on the substation.

“As we all know, Campbell River is growing, and the existing substation at the top of 7th Avenue needs to be increased in terms of capacity,” Watson told council. “The third transformer goes into service in March, so we’ll have four new circuit positions coming out of that transformer and that’ll serve the city well into the next few decades.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield asked Watson what the timeline is for the re-opening of the roads that were closed while the construction took place up at John Hart. Watson says he expects the road across the dam will re-open in April, but there are likely to be a few intermittent closures after that, provided they receive the proper permits from the city to do so.

“And then, of course, it will be closed again in 2021,” Watson says, in order to begin the seismic upgrade work on the rest of the dams in the system.