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John Hart Generating Station Replacement

Aerial view of the John Hart Generating Station
John Hart Generating Station has been operating since 1947. We're upgrading it to modern standards, a $1 billion project.

What's new

Construction is nearing completion, with all the water flow equipment operational as of November 2018. This includes the three turbines and generators, the automated water bypass facility, and the low level outlet works below the John Hart Dam. The final touches on the project will go into 2019. The old facility, which was permanently shut down in October 2018, will be removed by summer 2019.

John Hart Generation Station Replacement Project construction update seven

The John Hart Generating Station is located in the City of Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The facility is beside the Elk Falls Provincial Park.

Brewster Lake Road across the John Hart dam is currently open.  

Woodstave Road, just off Brewster Lake Road by Highway 28, is and will be the permanent access road leading to Elk Falls Provincial Park. It terminates at a parking lot where there is an interpretive centre and trail that leads to the Elk Falls suspension bridge.

The Station View Trail, which was a temporary trail created in 2013 to go around the project construction area, will be closed April 1 to around August 2019. This closure is to allow work to remove the old hydroelectric facilities, such as two of the three surge towers and the three penstocks. The trail may be re-opened around August with the new and permanent trail re-alignment near the Campbell River. The Canyon View Trail loop will not be possible from April to about August. Trail users can only go up or down on one side of the river. The Millennium Trail is unaffected by this work.

Check out our monthly construction report [PDF 9.1 MB] for more details.

There are four main components to replacing the aging John Hart Generating Station:

  • A replacement underground generating station with new equipment, constructed about 500-600 metres up the penstock corridor from the existing powerhouse.
  • Replacing three 1.8 kilometre pipelines with a single 2.1 kilometre tunnel (8.1 metres in diameter).
  • A new water intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam.
  • A new water bypass facility within the generating station.

Built in 1947, John Hart Generating Station is aging, and needs to be replaced.

The existing facility and pipelines are unlikely to withstand a moderate earthquake. A new facility will benefit from years of learning about seismic safety.

The existing generating station is also in poor condition. Partly because of that poor condition, electricity output from the generating station is declining. A new facility with new equipment will be more efficient and more reliable.

95% of the lower Campbell River comes out of the John Hart Generating Station. A new water bypass will ensure that if we need to shut down the facility for any reason, water flow can be maintained for fish and fish habitat.

Hiking trails and suspension bridge

It's not just a more efficient, reliable facility that's coming to Campbell River as part of the John Hart project. The project also supports the creation of a number of local community amenities, including:

  • A John Hart Project Interpretive Centre, staffed through an agreement with the Museum at Campbell River, located at the new parking lot that tells the story of the project and the watershed's history.
  • Construction of the Station View Trail, which allows safe access through the John Hart construction site and continued hiking around Campbell River via connections to the Canyon View and Millennium Trails.

Elk Falls Provincial Park

In 1946, a portion of Elk Falls Provincial Park was set aside for construction of the John Hart hydroelectric project. That means that the replacement project that is now underway is surrounded by the park.

Park boundaries needed to be adjusted to allow for the construction. This required an Act of the provincial Legislature, which was finalized at the end of March 2013.

We’re committed to making Elk Falls Provincial Park bigger after the replacement project is complete. Once construction is done, some BC Hydro land beside the park boundaries will be transferred to BC Parks.

The replacement project has a budget of $1.093 billion, and continues to track on time and on budget for full facility completion in 2019.

The replacement project is good news for the local environment and habitat - especially fish.

Our 2012 Environmental Assessment Report showed that the John Hart Generating Station replacement project would have no significant adverse biophysical or socio-economic effects.

In fact, the project has two long-term environmental benefits:

  • If the generating station stops working, a new water bypass facility will allow water to continue to flow, protecting downstream habitat for fish.
  • Three existing pipelines which are 1.8 kilometres long, will be removed and re-forested, reducing our environmental footprint in the area.