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Ditidaht bypass road nearing completion after years of flooding

Project aiming for late November completion
A map of the new bypass. (Courtesy of Dididaht First Nation)

By Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter HA-SHILTH-SA

The end of summer marks the beginning of the rainy season for most of Vancouver Island, however for the Ditidaht village, Malachan, the heavy rain means significant flooding which leaves the roads unsafe, and residents trapped. Seasonal flooding usually goes hand-in-hand with power failures, further isolating the residents from the outside world.

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.”

When the 2.8 kilometer 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 equipment will be here 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.

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