The navigational lock at the Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam will be closed from Sept. 19 to Oct. 5

BC Hydro funds four legacy projects to compensate for closure of Hugh L. Keenleyside deck

Four Castlegar area projects have received a boost thanks to grants provided by BC Hydro.

Four local projects have received a boost thanks to grants provided by BC Hydro.

The Robson Volunteer Fire Department (RVFD) will be using their $10,000 to upgrade the departments personal protective equipment including new hi-visibility coveralls and boots. Their current coveralls were last replaced in the late ’90s. “We have outdated coveralls and boots — it is antiquated equipment, so Hydro stepped up and is going to update that,” said RVFD fire chief Jeff Grant.

“It is a big help to us,” added Grant. “We are a small budget fire hall and for us to replace all of that equipment without their funding would have been a two- or three-year project. This enables us to get it all at once — to bring us all up to the same level of protection, it is a huge help.”

“Without the help of organizations like Columbia Power and BC Hydro, a lot of these thing we need to do — just couldn’t get done. It’s a really good feeling knowing that they are there to support us,” concluded Grant.

Also out towards Robson, the Pass Creek Regional Park received $80,000 for the footbridge the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) is planning on building over Norns/Pass Creek to connect the two sides of the park. The plan is to link the bridge with an interpretive trail system and to provide wildlife viewing opportunities, including kokanee spawning viewing.

Another $10,000 will go towards improved highway signage on Hwy. 3 and Hwy. 3A. Three billboard-sized signs will be installed to promote safety and tourism. These signs will feature pictures and names of points of interest as well as a map with a spot directory. The Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce will deliver this project.

The City of Castlegar’s Bridge to Bridge project received $50,000. This new route will connect the existing Connors Rd. multi-use path, then travel across the Kinnaird Bridge and up to Heritage Way, and will provide pedestrians and cyclists with a safe, dedicated option when accessing Selkirk College and the Selkirk College trail network.

The money for these projects is coming from BC Hydro’s Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam compensation funding.

BC Hydro underwent the Canadian Dam Association’s risk assessment for all of its facilities in the last few years. According to BC Hydro, “The assessment for the Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam found that allowing traffic over the facility is a high risk activity with serious potential consequences. The report evaluated potential options to keep the dam deck open, but found there were no reasonable safety measures that can be implemented to ensure worker and public safety, and recommended that the dam deck be permanently closed to public access.”

BC Hydro announced the permanent closure of the dam deck in April. Since then, they have been looking into providing some form of mitigation for the permanent loss of vehicle traffic. The company accepted grant applications earlier in the year and funding for these four legacy projects within the City of Castlegar and communities in the Regional District of Central Kootenay – Area J is the result of that process.