The public got their first chance to get a first-hand look at the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project last weekend, and, despite the dreary weather, many happily took advantage of that opportunity.
Busses left every 10 minutes or so from downtown at Spirit Square Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shuttling the public to and from the site, giving the public a once-a-year chance to see for themselves what’s going on up the hill.
“BC Hydro mainly provides community updates through the Interpretative Centre that’s open five days a week and the monthly construction reports that has pictures and overviews, but there’s really nothing like actually seeing it,” said Stephen Watson of BC Hydro, who welcomed visitors to the tour and introduced them to the site in a general way before sending them on the circuit where various project coordinators and managers would be giving presentations and answering questions.
“So once a year, and only once a year, we’re going to open up certain areas of the site for people to come in and have a look,” Watson said. “That way they can really get a perspective of what it’s going to look like. If they come out every year, they can really see the project evolve and develop.”
He said despite the weather, people seemed enthusiastic to have this opportunity.
“The weather’s not great, so we don’t know how many people are going to come out, but we’re prepared for quite a few and so far the response has been good and it’s been great to see all the community interest.”
At the first stop on the self-guided tour, Marty Klotz introduced the public to how the system will work, why it has been designed the way it has, and where things are in relation to everything else, just so people could get their bearings on the whole thing. He also explained the process and progress of the excavation and introduced people to some of the machinery.
The procession then continued down to the entrance of the main access tunnel, where Project Manager for Frontier Kemper/ASL Matt Kendall was waiting to answer more questions.
“The biggest questions I’ve gotten have been about ventilation, how the tunnel interfaces with the powerhouse, and about where the water goes,” said Kendall.
He explained to one man, for example, how surge protection occurs on both sides of the generating station, so that excess water at any point in the process doesn’t overwhelm the system or flow anywhere it shouldn’t.
At the next stop, Head Surveyor Jim Allen welcomed people to a booth back near where they got off the busses, in front of the entrance to the service tunnel, where he pointed to specific areas on the project drawings that people were still interested in, and answered questions about depth of drilling, slopes and spacial relationships between sections.
The public was then shuttled up the hill to the Interpretative Centre and upper parking lot, where there was a barbecue happening courtesy Save-On Foods – with proceeds going to Campbell River Kinsmen – rides up into the trees in BC Hydro bucket trucks, periodic puppet shows by the staff of the Museum at Campbell River, and various kiosks from organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, North Island Employment Foundations Society and BC Parks and Recreation.
After the event, Watson said they saw “just over 1,000 people,” take the busses from downtown out to the facility, “and considering the weather and it being the first of these, I thought the support was really great,” and he’s looking forward to next year’s event, which he hopes will see even more community members take advantage of the tours.
For more information on the project or to check out the monthly updates from BC Hydro on the project’s progress, head over to BCHydro.com/johnhart. There is also a new animated video about the project that, “clarifies a few things about the project in a really nice, easy to understand way,” according to Watson. That video is on display both at the Interpretative Centre at the top of the hill and at the website.
The monthly update reports are also available at majorprojects.ca.