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News release

BC Hydro plans for John Hart dam seismic upgrade

CAMPBELL RIVER: BC Hydro today announced plans to initiate a project for seismic upgrades for the John Hart dam in Campbell River.

“This is an important project for the Campbell River area,” says Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation. “It will provide benefits to the local economy, for public safety, and for clean electricity generation.”

The cost estimate for the project is between $497 million and $822 million. The estimate will be refined as the project progresses. BC Hydro has initiated the first stage in the procurement process with a request for proposals for the civil contract.

“The John Hart dam is a key component of BC Hydro’s infrastructure on Vancouver Island,” says Chris O’Riley, President and CEO, BC Hydro. “The upgrades are required to strengthen the dam so that it can continue to operate safely and reliably.”

BC Hydro began consultation with local stakeholders about the potential project in 2014 and is continuing consultation with the We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and K’omoks First Nations.

“Keeping people safe is an important part of everything we do,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island. “Upgrading the John Hart Dam will do exactly that and bring good jobs to local families here in Campbell River.”

The proposed John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade project follows the last significant upgrade to the John Hart system, which was the completion of the John Hart Generating Station Replacement project. This project consisted of the construction of a new generating station over a five-year period.

Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and the upgrades are expected to be complete in 2029. A thorough application will be submitted to the BC Utilities Commission next week for approval.

For more information, visit For information on jobs and contractor and subcontractor opportunities related to dam safety projects near Campbell River, visit



  • The John Hart dam was built in the 1940s. It is about 34 metres tall and more than 800 metres long.
  • The key components of the John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade project are new upstream and downstream berms, spillway gate and hoist replacement, a new overflow spillway, and an additional water seepage barrier in the middle earth-fill dam.
  • Construction work for the project is planned to be completed by contractors through the public procurement process.
  • BC Hydro completed the John Hart Generating Station Replacement project to build a more efficient, reliable and seismically-sound facility. The project had four main components:
    • A replacement underground generating station with new equipment, constructed about 500 to 600 metres up the penstock corridor from the existing powerhouse.
    • The replacement of 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.
  • Vancouver Island is within the most seismically-active zone in British Columbia.
  • Since 2014, BC Hydro, the City of Campbell River and the Strathcona Regional District have collaboratively worked together to inform the downstream community of the potential interim risk from a severe earthquake.
  • BC Hydro has also proposed seismic safety upgrade projects at the Ladore and Strathcona facilities within the Campbell River system. Next steps for those projects include the regulatory and procurement processes.

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604.928.6468