BC Hydro will begin initial site preparation work in mid-September as the utility prepares for the John Hart Dam seismic upgrade project.
Work includes preparing construction areas, removing trees in various locations, relocating power lines and relocating a boat launch.
“This early work will prepare the site so that once we have all project approvals in place, the contractor can start in the summer of 2023,” BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson said. “As an example, tree felling is scheduled outside the bird nesting season, so there is no delay in starting dam improvement works. We performed the same type of preliminary site preparation work for the successful John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project. »
Tree felling will take place at various locations near the dam. Trees will be removed primarily using a feller buncher and once processed will be supplied to First Nations. Stumps and woody debris will then be removed from the laydown areas, and topsoil will be removed to allow for grading.
Some other trees will be removed through an assessment of hazardous trees for the continued safety of workers.
One of the construction drop-off areas to eventually be created is north of the dam and adjacent to the informal parking lot for hikers and mountain bikers using the Dean Martin Trail and other trails. The parking lot and trails on Brewster Lake Road will be continuously adjusted for this laying work. BC Hydro has communicated with the Town of Campbell River, the River City Cycle Club and BC Parks over the past year to ensure continued public access to the trails during and after the six years of construction.
Upon completion of the project upgrade work, expected in 2029, all laydown areas not required for operational needs will be remediated and replanted.
“Given the public traffic through the dam and the recreational activities just north of the dam, it’s important that people know about this early work in advance and understand why we’re doing it,” says Watson. “There will be intermittent road closures and trail closures as work progresses.”
Other site works include relocating some power lines around the dam to allow for upcoming construction activities.
The existing BC Hydro boat launch near the John Hart Dam will be relocated closer to the Town of Campbell River water treatment building. This will then provide continued access to the reservoir for water quality and project monitoring. The new boat launch will be outside the work area for the new upstream embankment berms and water turbidity containment works, which is a floating boardwalk with two silt curtains on each side suspended to the bottom of the tank. The boat ramp is not for public use.
With the change in location of the boat launch, BC Hydro has notified Transport Canada that the John Hart Reservoir is a domestic water supply and that public boating is prohibited. There is therefore no impact of the project on the navigation activities of the reservoir. BC Hydro advises the public that notifications have been made to Transport Canada through log #5720 for the early work, then under log #5986 for the main project.
BC Hydro continues to work through project procurement, regulatory and financing approvals so that construction work on the seismic upgrades to the dam can begin in the summer of 2023. BC Hydro expects a once the project is completed, the John Hart Dam will be able to withstand a major earthquake.
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