BC Hydro is getting ready for another round of tours welcoming the community and showing them around their major regional infrastructure project.
On July 17, the buses will – for the second year – be running from downtown out to the site, where visitors will get to see the progress being made on the billion-dollar John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project that will fulfil the community’s power needs for the foreseeable future.
Stephen Watson of BC Hydro says that those who attended the first community tours last year will see some significant progress, as things are obviously much further along.
“We’re very proud of this project and it’s kind of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation for people, because it’s underground, off behind the trees, so this is a great opportunity for people to come out and see first-hand what the project is all about. It’s a legacy project for this community and this area that we hope people are as proud to have happening as we are to be doing it.”
Over 1,000 people turned out for last year’s event, despite it falling on a rainy, dreary weekend.
The weather forecast – at least at this point – looks much more favourable for this year’s tour, so Watson hopes the community will take advantage of this opportunity to come see the project.
Hydro mainly provides community updates on the project through the Interpretive Centre, along with monthly construction reports, Watson says, so this once-a-year opportunity to come see the project first-hand is really special.
They’ve added another bus this year – going from seven to eight – and are actually placing a tour guide aboard each one to provide an even more educational experience for people.
“The guides will be people intimately involved with the project – engineers, project managers and others,” Watson says, “so they are very knowledgable and will be able to answer any questions people are sure to have.”
In fact, Watson himself will be one of the guides.
They’ve also added another stop to the tour. Last year the busses let people off at one set of tunnels leading underground, and then up to the Interpretive Centre at the Elk Falls parking lot. Those are still stops on the tour, Watson says, but this year there’s a stop in between.
“We’re excited to be able to show people the work going on at the dam itself this year,” Watson says. “It’s another great addition to the tour that I think people will be really excited to learn more about.”
Once visitors arrive at the Interpretive Centre, there will be booths for various community organizations, a by-donation barbecue put on by the Campbell River Kinsmen, and other special guests and performances.
“We’re thrilled that this year we’ve got two First Nations dance troupes coming to perform. And there will, of course, be the bucket-truck rides that everyone always enjoys.”
The first bus will leave from Spirit Square at 9:30 a.m. and they will run every 10 minutes “or so” Watson says, right up until 2:30 p.m.
The last return bus will leave from the Interpretative Centre at 4:30, subject to how many people are still around.
“We’re not going to leave anyone stranded up there,” Watson says with a chuckle. “So we’ll run it until everyone is back in town.”
For more information on the project, head online to bchydro.com/johnhart or show up downtown at Spirit Square July 17 and get on a bus.