The commission’s approval comes after five years of project planning by BC Hydro, feedback from the Campbell River community, and a regulatory review process that lasted close to one year. The commission determined the project was the most cost-effective option to address the significant reliability, seismic, environmental and fisheries issues associated with the 66-year-old facility.

The John Hart Generating Station Replacement project involves constructing a new water intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam by replacing the three 1.8km long pipelines with a 2.1km long tunnel; constructing a replacement generating station beside the existing station and building a new water bypass facility.

There are three main reasons for the project: the generating station and pipelines may not withstand a low to moderate earthquake; the six generating units are in poor condition and their capacity is declining; and an unplanned generating station shutdown and river flow reduction would harm fish habitat.

In the next step for the project, BC Hydro now has to obtain legislative approval of a parks boundary adjustment and choose a preferred proponent to design and build the project.