BC Hydro is planning to install the sixth turbine inside the Revelstoke Dam. ~ Revelstoke Review file photo

City lists concern about Revelstoke Dam Unit 6 project

Housing, extra policing, riverbank erosion at top of concerns for City of Revelstoke

The City of Revelstoke has submitted a list of concerns about the construction of a sixth turbine in the Revelstoke Dam on the community.

The 16-item list covers everything from increased policing costs to riverbank erosion to housing. The list was put together by city staff and endorsed by council last week.

It was submitted to the province’s Environmental Assessment Office on Aug. 11.

Arguably the biggest concern is the impact on the city’s already limited supply of housing.

“BC Hydro should consider that unless appropriate mitigation measures are taken, the demand from non-local construction workers will likely have adverse effects on availability and affordability of housing,” wrote Nicole Fricot, the city’s director of economic development in a report to council. “Local construction workers taking positions on the Hydro project will likely result in fewer construction workers available to do local projects and increased cost of building in Revelstoke.”

She also wrote there were concerns about social issues such as “family issues, substance abuse and lack of stability” that could put increased demand on the community’s hospital and social service organizations.

Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering, said the city is concerned what increased discharge through the dam might do to the riverbank along Third Street West near Mountain View Elementary, which is already eroding. “Hydro needs to consider that with increased river discharge and potential for more rapid river level fluctuations, the impacts on the stability of the already affected slope should be reviewed by a qualified engineer,” he wrote.

Another concern is how increased traffic on Westside Road, which is estimated at 154 daily one-way trips at peak times, will impact tourism and recreation providers along that road, including the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, Revy Riders, Revelstoke Cycling Association and Glacier House Resort. “Hydro needs to consider that the increased traffic and road closures would likely have a substantial effect on recreation and tourism in the areas of construction, particularly Westside Road,” Fricot wrote.

For the RCMP, the concerns are how the increase in population will lead to more calls for service for everything from assaults to thefts to liquor violations to highway incidents. Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky also noted the city’s housing issues, saying it makes it difficult to attract new recruits to the detachment.

He asked that BC Hydro pay to hire an extra police officer at a cost of $129,000 per year for the duration of the project.

The Revelstoke Unit 6 project is currently being reviewed by the Environmental Assessment Office. If it goes ahead, it would add 500 megawatts to the dams generating capacity. BC Hydro says the unit is needed by 2026 when major maintenance begins on the four original units at the Mica Dam. “For contingency, BC Hydro is pursuing regulatory approvals so Revelstoke Unit 6 could be in-service as early as 2021 in case more capacity is needed sooner,” states BC Hydro.

The project is expected to cost anywhere from $330,000,000 to $582,000,000, which includes the construction of a new capacitor station near Summerland.

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