Canoe Creek Hydro

Canoe Creek Hydro is the first of three Run-of-river hydroelectric projects developed by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Barkley Project Group.

Project Type: Hydro
Capacity: 6.0 MW
Owned By: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
Status: Operations
Project Start Date: 2009
Project Completion Date: 2014 with operations ongoing

The facility is located on Vancouver Island between Port Alberni and Tofino in the Canoe Creek Watershed which receives an average of six meters of rainfall annually. Power is generated by a two-jet horizontal Pelton turbine.

This project is majority-owned by the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation, with a minority stake held by Swiftwater Power Corp of Nanaimo, BC. Producing an average of 6 MW, this run-of-river hydro project can supply the annual needs of 2,000 homes. The energy produced is sold to BC Hydro via a long-term electricity purchase agreement.

The project positioned the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation as a leader in renewable energy development and has led to the successful development of two additional run-of-river hydro projects by TFN. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation hopes to use the powerhouse site for a future salmon hatchery.

Canoe Creek Hydro’s minimal environmental footprint is reflected in its EcoLogo certification. Trees that were felled during the construction were repurposed by TFN, including an 800-year-old tree that will become a totem pole. Traditionally displayed outside the home, most Tla-o-qui-aht families had 4 totem poles in front of their homes. Today, only 2 totem poles remain from 1989 and 1993. With the help of various local artists including Gordon Dick, Patrick Amos, Robin Rorick, Ken Easton and Nookmis, Joe Martin, a master carver and Tla-o-qui-aht elder began carving the totem pole on June 18, 2021. “In a way, the totem pole helps to rekindle our culture,” said Martin. “To understand who we really are.”

In 2010 Canoe Creek Hydro won the Project Excellence Award from Clean Energy BC. In 2012, Canoe Creek Hydro Ltd won an Outstanding Business Achievement award for a Joint Venture Business from the BC Aboriginal Business Awards. In 2013, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation won the Community of the Year award from Clean Energy BC for their work on clean energy projects.

This project has received support from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Economic Development Corporation, the Government of Canada, the Province of BC, and BC Hydro.