North Island MLA and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena admires the expansive powerhouse cavern at the John Hart Generating Station alongside Wei Wai Kum Chief Chris Roberts. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

North Island MLA and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena admires the expansive powerhouse cavern at the John Hart Generating Station alongside Wei Wai Kum Chief Chris Roberts. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

$1.1-billion Vancouver Island power plant replacement project officially complete

New Campbell River-area John Hart generating station replacing and upgrading 1947 facility

It is one of the biggest capital investments Vancouver Island has seen this decade and it is now giving residents a return on that investment.

More than a decade after its initial conception, the new $1.1 billion John Hart Generating station is officially complete and fully operational.

Representatives from all levels of government involved in the project, along with chiefs of local First Nations and dignitaries from all facets of the station’s construction gathered for one more tour of the Campbell River-area facility Thursday, touting the project’s importance to the corporation, the community and the people.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity to see, first hand, the extraordinary scope of this work,” says North-Island MLA and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena. “I remember a number of years ago, sitting outside by the parking lot as this was being announced. Now to be here just when the finishing touches are being completed is truly impressive.”

Trevena calls the project an important step in “making sure that we are going to have more clean energy for B.C.” and says she references the John Hart Generating Station project as a key example of how the Community Benefits Agreement works.

She also says hydroelectricity is a key component of the shift required to meet our climate targets.

“We must increase our use of cleaner energy – especially hydroelectricity – in our lives and in key sectors of our economy, shifting away from our reliance on fossil fuels for transportation, for industry and for housing. This project will help ensure that we have the power we need to support that low-carbon electrification and meet our climate goals.”

The project included replacing the aging existing underground generating station with new equipment, replacing three 1.8 kilometre pipelines with a single 2.1 kilometre tunnel and building a new water intake and bypass facility.

Chris O’Riley, president of BC Hydro – who actually began his career with BC Hydro at the old John Hart facility – says the facility is “a really key part of our system on Vancouver Island, but it is also a key part of the region’s history.

The construction of the dam itself 71 years ago, O’Riley says, “kicked off the growth in the North Island. In particular, it enabled the Elk Falls mill, which allowed this town to grow up from a small fishing town into the robust community that we know today, and John Hart continues to build those connections and fill that role today and into the future.”

But the original power plant, “was recognized as one of the biggest environmental risks in the company,” O’Riley says, and when they eventually settled on putting the new powerhouse underground, “it solved a lot of problems and constraints,” but it also forced them “to really change how we thought about building a plant and forced us to be open to different approaches and open to other ideas.”

Chief Chris Roberts of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation says he’s happy with the environmental considerations BC Hydro has made throughout the planning and construction.

“I’ve only been in this position for about eight months,” Roberts says, “and a lot of people here have talked about being here from the beginning. But for me, our people have been here since the very beginning of when this infrastructure was first put in place.

“In those days, there was no effort of consultation on engagement of how this might impact a place that we call home. When I learned about some of the details about what this project has in terms of being environmentally-aware infrastructure – I was very pleased to see that it was an improvement rather than just a replacement.”

Chief Brian Assu of the We Wai Kai was involved through the entire process, and agrees with Roberts about the relationships between First Nations and the company.

“I’ve been involved with BC Hydro for a very long time,” Assu says. “But I’d especially like to recognize and thank past Chief Ralph Dick and Chief Robert Pollard. They were integral to forming the new relationship that has developed between not only our First Nations, but also BC Hydro and SNC (Lavalin). We were all working together over time and the results are just fantastic.”



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

David Wighton is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the winner of the Coaches Award. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Life-changing lessons shared after 55-year coaching career

David Wighton is the 2021 recipient of the Local Hero Coaches Award

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Island Health has reported possible COVID-19 exposures at Glandford Middle School in Saanich on Feb. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 17. (Google Maps streetview)
Island Health reports COVID-19 exposures at Saanich middle school

Exposures occurred between Feb. 8 and 17 at Glanford Middle School

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Expanding social circles fuelling North Island COVID-19 spike

Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Quesnel RCMP confirmed they are investigating a residential break-in at a home on the Barkerville Highway. (File image)
Thieves make off with $300K in Cariboo miner’s retirement gold

Tim Klemen is offering a reward for the return of his gold

Most Read