Vancouver Island’s John Hart Dam embarks on a significant seismic upgrade, aiming to enhance downstream public safety. This initiative is part of a trio of seismic projects costing up to $1.74 billion, set to complete by 2030.
The long-anticipated seismic upgrade project for the John Hart Dam near Campbell River on Vancouver Island is underway, with early site preparations finalised. The initiative targets the reinforcement of the earth-fill and concrete structure originally built in the 1940s.
Stephen Watson, senior stakeholder engagement adviser at BC Hydro, mentioned that the project predominantly revolves around earthworks. A colossal 750,000 cubic metres of material, equivalent to filling roughly 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools, will be moved. The materials include new contents from a nearby pit site and the removal of existing upstream and downstream materials. Additionally, 6,400 cubic metres of concrete will be used.
The motive behind the upgrade is the seismic activity of Vancouver Island, recognised as B.C.’s most active zone. The enhancements will allow the dam to resist a one-in-10,000-year earthquake magnitude, ensuring the safety of downstream residents during earthquakes.
The project is part of three major seismic upgrade initiatives, the others being at the Strathcona Dam and Ladore Spillway, both in the early stages of regulatory approvals. The total expenditure for these projects is expected to reach $1.74 billion. The John Hart Dam’s portion alone carries an estimated cost of up to $923 million.
Significant measures within this project include the replacement and modernisation of spillway gates and hoist systems, the introduction of a new overflow spillway, and the establishment of a water seepage barrier. The project also encompasses environmental conservation efforts in the Campbell River estuary, such as the enhancement of a 6,170-square-metre area to bolster fish rearing, involving the removal of invasive species and planting of native trees and shrubs.
Execution of the civil works is undertaken by Aecon-EBC General Partnership. The project is also expected to provide approximately 100 to 150 jobs over six years.
This significant endeavour stems from a six-year hazard analysis initiated in 2007. Since 2014, BC Hydro has been in consultation with local First Nations, including the Wei Wai Kum Nation, We Wai Kai Nation, and K’omoks First Nation, to ensure community collaboration and benefit.
- The initiative targets the reinforcement of the earth-fill and concrete structure originally built in the 1940s
- A colossal 750,000 cubic metres of material, equivalent to filling roughly 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools, will be moved.
- The enhancements will allow the dam to resist a one-in-10,000-year earthquake magnitude, ensuring the safety of downstream residents during earthquakes.
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