The end of summer marks the beginning of the rainy season for most of Vancouver Island.
However, for Malachan, the Ditidaht village — located west of Lake Cowichan and south Port Alberni — heavy rain means significant flooding which leaves the roads unsafe, and residents trapped.
Approximately two kilometres of the Carmanah Mainline, which leads to Malachan village, is located along the Nitinaht River flood plain.
During periods of heavy rain, the road can become impassible. It results in two to three-metre-high flooding along the road several times a year, said Bryan Cofsky, executive director of the Ditidaht Economic Development Corporation.
Ditidaht has been lobbying the government for roughly 30 years to get a road that bypasses the impassable flood zone, said Cofsky.
“We couldn’t wait any longer,” said Cofsky. “We didn’t want to wait until something drastic happened.”
So they decided to go ahead with a 2.8-kilometre bypass road that will go around the flood zone.
When the 2.8-kilometre bypass road will be finished is the million-dollar question, said Cofsky. They have experienced delays with getting the equipment needed to install the remaining culverts and build the bridges. They have also modified construction of the two bridges so that they do not impact salmon enhancement projects.
“Hopefully, that 1/8 equipment 3/8 will be 1/8 here 3/8 in the next couple of weeks. We can get those bridges in and then we’ll be ready to go by, I’m hoping, towards the end of November, if everything works on schedule,” said Cofsky.
“But more often than not, the project is towards the end of completion,” said Cofsky.
According to Cofsky, the road will cost $1.5 to $1.7 million when finished, paid for mostly by the Ditidaht Economic Development Corporation. The province of British Columbia provided $100,000 to examine the feasibility of the project.
“As long as we can get, you know, members from the village out of the community and into town, and we sort of completed our task,” said Cofsky.
Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/HA-SHILTH-SA via The Canadian Press