The 70-year-old generating station on the Campbell River has been decommissioned and will soon to be torn down and replaced with parkland.

The new facility, which took 4.5 years to build,  is almost completely underground.

Three new turbines in the massive 10 story powerhouse replace six in the old facility but produce 10 per cent more power. And water from behind the John Hart dam now gets to the powerhouse through a single 2.1 km tunnel that’s 8.1 metres in diameter.

It replaces three above ground pipelines.

“The old facility was built at a time when they didn’t really understand the seismic risks on Vancouver Island and the old facility was at end of life and needed to be replaced,” said B.C. Hydro CEO Chris Roberts.

The project and process are also being applauded by local First Nations who say 70 years ago they were never consulted about how their traditional territory including fish in the Campbell River was going to be affected by the dam.

“You know in those days it was an unheard of thing to engage the local First Nations around what our concerns would be and so it’s refreshing, it’s encouraging that that’s the approach nowadays,” said Chris Roberts, Chief of the Wei Wai Kim First Nation.

At its peak, about 500 people were worked on the project.

Dean Stoltz