John Hart project has billion dollar price tag

BC Hydro will be investing more than one billion dollars in Campbell River.

The latest estimate has the company spending $1.35 billion on the John Hart Generating Station replacement project.

Steve Watson, spokesperson for BC Hydro, made a presentation to council Tuesday night to provide an update on the project which may enter the construction phase as early as next year and last for five years.

“There are no guarantees on specific work yet,” said Watson. “But we can say there will be 2,000 jobs created, up until 2017 when the project is projected to be completed.”

That averages out to 400 jobs a year. But the jobs aren’t guaranteed to be filled by local people. The project will be put out to tender and the company awarded the job doesn’t typically engage the community.

“I would encourage the community leaders to meet with the bidders early on,” said Watson. “Certainly the better a community is prepared, the more successful it will be.”

One thing Watson could guarantee was lots of traffic.

“There will be a great deal of truck traffic entering and leaving the site,” said Watson. It would not be unusual to have 160 trucks a day working at the generating station and a total of 40,000 over the span of the project, he said.

The generating station is being replaced to erase the ongoing risk and consequence to fish from unplanned river flow reductions that BC Hydro has had to implement; eliminate seismic risks to the pipelines and powerhouse and to ensure the long-term reliability of the John Hart Generating Station, including an increase in power generation capacity from the current 126 mega watts to 138 mega watts, by using more efficient equipment.

The major components of the project are replacing the above-ground pipelines with a two-kilometre underground tunnel and constructing a new powerhouse beside the existing one. The generating station will still supply power throughout the construction but access to the Campbell River may be limited. Areas around the generating station will at times be blocked off but Watson said BC Hydro will ensure Destiny River Adventures and fish agencies will have access to the river.

The Canyon View Trail will also be impacted by construction but BC Hydro has committed to making a bypass trail through the BC Hydro property to connect to the Canyon View to maintain use of the trail.

“This new trail, planned to be constructed this summer, would maintain the loop configuration to the BC Parks’ trails. Both the existing trail and the bypass trail would be open until the trail along the river is closed off during the construction stage,” said Watson.

Post construction, BC Hydro will re-establish the Canyon View Trail along the river.

The Brewster Lake Bridge will also undergo some changes. As the current bridge has a weight restriction that would inhibit construction trucks, Watson says the bridge will be replaced – possibly with a steel bridge – that could accommodate fully loaded trucks.

BC Hydro will be holding a community open house to provide information on the project sometime in June.

The company will issue a Request for Qualification this spring and a Request for Proposal in the fall. It plans to award the project in late summer 2012 and begin construction in late 2012.

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