BC Hydro’s new John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project is ramping up for construction to begin. This diagram outlines the new station to be built underground.

BC Hydro project in Campbell River gears up

About 15 workers are widening Surge Tower Road in preparation of a big tunneling operation

About 15 workers are widening Surge Tower Road in preparation of a big tunneling operation that will begin the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project.

That workforce will balloon to nearly 200 people by year’s end and to 340 by 2016, as BC Hydro ramps up the $1 billion project.

“We’re pretty excited about the next steps,” said hydro spokesman Stephen Watson.

In November, BC Hydro announced SNC-Lavalin as the winning bidder.

The final contract is expected to be signed in February with tunnelling to begin by the end of April.

Currently, water from the John Hart Lake reservoir flows down General Hill in three large woodstave pipelines that connect with the generating station on the Campbell River.

The plan is to remove the pipelines and replace them with an 8.1-metre diameter tunnel that goes through granite, thereby providing excellent seismic stability.

As well, the entire generating station is going underground too which will result in the removal of the old concrete station.

“It will be like a mining operation to drill and control blast the rock, and then remove it. The building stage will start later on,” said Watson.

With the influx of workers, accommodation will be in demand. Contrary to some rumours, there will be no work camp.

Watson said it will be up to each worker to find their own place to live whether their contract lasts a few months or a couple years.

There will be a business event in the city in March. BC Hydro, SNC-Lavalin, the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce, the Vancouver Island Construction Association and the North Island Employment Foundations Society are working on the final details. The event will be open to all qualified businesses and individuals.