Dam work starts in May

The BC Hydro upgrade to the Ruskin Dam on Stave Lake is set to begin May, 2012 and take six years.

Built between 1929 and 1930, the dam now requires seismic upgrades to the superstructure and modernization of the powerhouse, expected to cost between $718 million and $857 million.

There are four components to the project:

• The right abutment of the dam, including the roadway, requires stabilization and is slated for construction between 2012 and 2013.

• Construction on the dam will begin in late 2013 and continue until 2017. It will include a new two-lane road allowing access for fire trucks and a pedestrian walkway over the dam. As well, the 1950s facade heritage will be preserved and used in new construction.

• The powerhouse building will be upgraded between 2012 to 2013 with the power generators slated for 2014 to 2017.

• Lastly, the switchyard will be shoehorned in some time between 2014 and 2017, but that hasn’t been decided.

The seismic upgrade would enable the dam to withstand a 1:10,000-year earthquake severity.

The application for the project is currently before the B.C. Utilities Commission, with final submissions from BC Hydro in October or November. A decision from the commission is expected in the early part of 2012.

BC Hydro has an ongoing environmental management plan on its website which allows for community engagement.

There are expected closures of the Reservoir Trail, Ruskin picnic area, and the beach at Hayward Recreation Site during construction. As well, Hayward Street from Wilson Road to Keystone will be closed.

The project will require up to the equivalent of 500 full-time workers involving two 10-hour shifts, six days a week.

The upgrades will power the equivalent of 33,000 homes.