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Save energy for a stop at a BC Hydro Visitor Centre this season

The kids interactive area at BC Hydro Stave Falls Visitor Centre
An interactive display at Stave Falls Visitor Centre. — Photo courtesy BC Hydro

If you’re travelling through British Columbia this summer or fall, be sure to save some energy for a stop at a BC Hydro Visitor Centre. At facilities in Hudson’s Hope, Revelstoke and Mission, you can see the largest reservoir in the province, turbines the same weight as four humpback whales, and lookouts more than 170 metres high.

According to Anne Walker, project manager for the BC Hydro Visitor Centres, “there are all kinds of things at each visitor centre that would be attractive to kids.

“Each one of them has some great displays about hydroelectricity, BC Hydro, and how we’ve contributed to B.C.,” she said.

But if you have seen one BC Hydro Visitor Centre, you have not seen them all.

“They’re all a bit unique,” said Walker.

Hudson’s Hope: W.A.C Bennett Dam and Peace Canyon Dam

In Hudson’s Hope, there are two visitor centres: the W.A.C. Bennett Dam—which sits on the edge of Williston Lake and is the largest reservoir in B.C. at over 1,700 square kilometres—and the Peace Canyon Dam Visitor Centre.

“The W.A.C. Bennett Dam includes an underground tour, so you can go into an actual operating generating station,” said Walker.  “It’s one of our largest in the province. They go underground into the dam on a bus tour and are able to drive over the dam and go into the dam as well and see the inside of a generating station.

“At the Peace Canyon Dam Visitor Centre it’s a self-guided tour, but still you can go into the generating station and overlook the generator floor and have a look at the facility. That’s where we’ve got a lot of the history about the dinosaurs and the excavation that we’ve done originally building the dam.”

Together, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, GM Shrum Generating Station and the Peace Canyon Generating Station produce about 29 per cent of BC Hydro’s electricity needs.

Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre

Walker said that the Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre offers similar opportunities to enjoy the surrounding natural environment and interactive displays inside the facility, as well as its own unique highlight: a 175-metre elevator ride to the top of the dam.

Mission: Stave Falls Visitor Centre

“In Mission we’re located right beside a recreational area with a beach and a playground and a big grassy knoll,” Walker said. “It’s a really great venue to spend the day with your family and get some fresh air, do some local hiking, see the visitor centre and learn a little about hydroelectricity.

“What’s really neat about the Stave Falls Visitor Centre is it’s actually a national historic site and it’s the old powerhouse. It’s a 100-year-old building. It used to be the original power generating station in B.C. You go into the powerhouse and all the generators are right there. You get a good idea – life-size – of what it is to be in a generating station. There we’ve got a lot of interactive displays.  It’s very Science World-y and hands-on.”

Walker said that on July 6 and 7 BC Hydro will be offering free admission to all four of their visitor centres with a donation to three respective local charities: Friend’s of Hudson’s Hope in Hudson’s Hope, the Revelstoke Humane Society in Revelstoke, and the local food bank in Mission.

For the first time this year, she added, BC Hydro will also be offering two-for-one admission to all four of their visitor centres on all of the long weekend holidays.

“It’s an opportunity to educate the public and promote hydroelectricity and our contribution to the electricity grid,” she said. “And we think it’s a great contribution to the community.”

Regular admission to the BC Hydro Visitor Centres is $6 for adults, $5 for youth and seniors and free for children five and under.  A $15 family rate and season’s passes are also available.

All four centres are open seven days a week. The Peace Canyon Dam Visitor Centre, Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre and Stave Falls Visitor Centre are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The W.A.C. Bennett Dam is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with guided tours departing every hour on the half hour.

For more information visit the BC Hydro website.

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