BC Hydro’s Discovery Centre near Elk Falls is slated for reopening — as the destination approaches 100,000 visitors.
The Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Centre is scheduled to open on Feb. 1, per a notice from BC Hydro. After opening in fall 2013, it has welcomed almost 100,000 visitors.
Through its information displays, the centre provides a history of BC Hydro’s Campbell River system, including facilities, operations, and large capital projects. There are also accounts of the social history of the watershed, provided by the Museum at Campbell River.
The centre was receiving about 16,000 visitors per year since 2015, when the suspension bridge at Elk Falls opened. But the number of visitors has decreased of late, to about 5,000 per year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, 99,380 people have visited the centre — with the 100,000th visitor expected to pass through in March. In recognition of this milestone, BC Hydro and the Museum at Campbell River have a gift basket ready for the lucky visitor.
“We’ve been very pleased with the visitor interest and experiences,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “Whether local people bringing friends and family up to the centre to see the latest information, to people travelling as tourists to see this beautiful area, we’ve had nice feedback on the extensive content and the centre staff.”
BC Hydro designed the centre to engage the community for the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project, completed in 2020. Since then, it has shifted focused towards three proposed dam safety upgrade projects at John Hart, Ladore, and Strathcona.
The partnership between BC Hydro and Museum at Campbell River dates to 2014, resulting in staffing and museum content at the centre.
“An added bonus that we like to offer visitors to the centre are discount coupons for Museum admission,” said Museum at Campbell River executive director, Sandra Parrish. “Likewise, visitors to the Museum are encouraged to visit the centre. It is an excellent reciprocal relationship between our two organizations.”
“BC Hydro is very pleased with our collaboration with the Museum and having the centre become a nice community amenity,” added Watson.
The centre, located beside the Elk Falls suspension bridge parking lot off Brewster Lake Road, will be open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, until May 15. It will then be open five days a week through September. There is no admission fee.