CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Work on removing the 71-year-old woodstave penstocks at Elk Falls north of Campbell River is two-thirds complete.

This is according to BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson, who added that the penstocks will probably be gone “in the next month or two.”

Work to remove the three penstocks started in January.

Measuring 3.66 metres in diameter, the 1.1 km-long penstocks were built out of old growth Douglas Fir and made on the site. The first one was built in 1947, the second in 1949 and the last a few years later as the John Hart facility was slowly built as the surrounding community grew to take up the power generation.

Moving forward, Watson said the “biggest issue for public awareness” is the closure of the Station View trail, beginning April 1 and into August.

“That means that people will not be able to walk the Canyon View Trail loop,” Watson said. “The trail will be closed right where the surge towers are, where the penstock is.”

According to Watson, the trail will be re-opened in August along the river, somewhat close to where it was originally, where the project started in 2014.

“People will be able to walk (on) either side of the river but they won’t be able to loop around, (starting on Monday).”

Meanwhile, the penstocks were sprayed with creosote to act as a wood preservative. This means the wood can’t be salvaged.

“So we’re disposing it at approved facilities,” Watson said.

Once the penstocks are removed, workers will be removing contaminated soils so that corridor meets Wildland Environmental Standards.

“Ultimately, that penstock corridor will (have) some plantings and be allowed to be returned to forest,” Watson said.

“So our environmental footprint will be significantly reduced as a result and as (BC) Hydro’s property goes through the middle of the Elk Falls Provincial Park, it’ll better fit into the park, so that’s a good thing.”