Oh Canada

3 October 2014

With the autumn conference season upon us the tunnelling community is next month heading to Vancouver to take part in the Tunnelling Association of Canada’s biennial conference.

Canada is a land of opportunity for tunnellers, with the cities winning investment in transport infrastructure and the country's massive wilderness playing host to hydropower and mine developments works. With British Columbia hosting the 2014 gathering, delegates will be in reach of Vancouver's recently completed 7km twin bore metro line and the Port Mann water tunnel.

Underway in the city is the Evergreen Line, an 11km extension to the Greater Vancouver rapid transit, which includes a 2km tunnel. And two water tunnel projects are proposed: The Second Narrows Water Supply Tunnel Project is an 1.1km long tunnel with preliminary design of the project is currently underway and construction planned to commence in 2017; The Annacis Main No 5 Water Tunnel is a water supply tunnel beneath the Fraser River connecting the Greater Vancouver suburbs of New Westminster and Surrey. Conceptual design is currently underway for the project, with detailed design to follow and underground construction planned to commence sometime in 2018.

Outside of the city, BC is seeing an increase in activity in hydroelectric developments. AltaGas recently completed the Forrest Kerr Hydro Project, which includes an extensive amount of underground work, including over 5,000m of access, tailrace and power tunnels and an underground powerhouse cavern (144m long, 17m span, 26m height).

The company is also constructing the McLymont Creek Hydro Project, which includes an intake, surface powerhouse and a 2.7km-long Power Tunnel. Tunnel excavation commenced Easter 2013. The project is scheduled for completion in mid 2015.

The proposed John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project is owned by BC Hydro and is located in on Vancouver Island. The massive CAD 1bn (USD 0.91bn) project, for which the principal contract was awarded earlier this year, includes the construction of a 2.1kmlong rock tunnel, an underground powerhouse, and associated shafts and access tunnels. Underground construction is scheduled to commence this autumn.

Innergex Renewable Energy is constructing three projects in British Columbia. The Upper Lillooet Hydroelectric Project, which includes two facilities, Upper Lillooet River Hydroelectric Facility and Boulder Creek Hydroelectric Facility requires 7km of tunnelling in total. The tunnels are mainly being cut by drill and blast.

A third and separate project being constructed is the Big Silver Hydroelectric Project. The tunnel is 5.5m high and 6m wide, with a total length of 1,800m. Tunnel excavation is scheduled to begin later this year.

Taking stock of the opportunities in BC is just scratching the surface of what Canada proper holds for tunnellers. For more detail on activities in BC and elsewhere in Canada see the October edition of Tunnels North America and visit the show in Vancouver.