Hydro to head ’em off at the trail bypass

That section of the Canyon View will then be closed off until construction at the generating station is complete

Construction on a new, temporary trail to divert Canyon View trail users away from the John Hart Dam Generating Station is expected to begin as early as this winter.

Stephen Watson, spokesperson for BC Hydro, told council Tuesday night that the bypass trail, which will go around the backside of the BC Hydro property, is slated for construction before the end of the year.

The bypass, dubbed the Station View Trail, will hook up to the Canyon View Trail near the river and along the edge of the BC Hydro property in order to re-route trail users away from construction at the generation station, expected to begin in 2013.

“We have the Station View Trail that comes inland…around the construction site, so that will provide trail continuity during construction,” Watson said. “We’re looking to construct that this winter and it might take three months to complete, subject to weather conditions. We’ll have the Station View Trail and the Canyon View Trail, as it exists today through the John Hart Generating Station and around the generating station, in place until next summer or fall.”

That section of the Canyon View will then be closed off until construction at the generating station is complete and the trail is re-established along the river. The Station View Trail is expected to be in use for five years. Hydro’s $1 – $1.2 billion plan to upgrade Campbell River’s generating station is currently in front of the B.C. Utilities Commission for review and a verdict is expected in February 2013. On Hydro’s side is the fact the corporation’s three major customers – residential, commercial, and industrial, as well as the City of Campbell River – have all passed judgement that the project should proceed. If it does, construction to build a new generating station, and the replacement of the wood stave pipelines running from John Hart Lake to the generating station with a two-kilometre long tunnel, could begin next summer.

In addition to the Canyon View Trail, the project will also impact Brewster Lake Road and the entrance to Elk Falls Provincial Park. Brewster Lake Road, and the old wooden bridge just before Elk Falls park, is expected to be closed for up to three years.

“We will get that started in late summer or fall of next year,” Watson said. “In the interim, we have a road that will go in near the pipelines and there will be parking spots, a community site office and a trail that will offer access into the park during the road closure. Through discussions with BC Parks, we’re actually looking to construct a permanent road access and parking. So about 80 parking spots for RVs, parking for buses, that do not exist today and that’ll be a project legacy. Parks is potentially looking at removing or decommissioning the two parking spots within the park, so this parking lot access could be a very good opportunity for Parks.”

Hydro has also been working closely with the city, which stands to lose its existing drinking water system because of the replacement of the three large pipes that transport water from John Hart Dam to the generating station with the tunnel. The city has drawn its drinking water from those pipes for 65 years. Hydro has committed to pay up to 75 per cent of the costs to build a new drinking water supply system, or up to $12.5 million. Mayor Walter Jakeway and Coun. Ron Kerr have long advocated that Hydro should pay the full cost, estimated between $15 and $20 million, because it’s Hydro’s project and therefore the power corporation’s responsibility.