Heavy West Coast rain raising concern about Hwy. 4 construction

As 371 millimetres of rain falls, Ucluelet mayor worried roadwork won’t be ready for summer

The West Coast lived up to its colloquial Wet Coast alias last week as a reported 371 millimetres of rain hammered down on Ucluelet from Thursday-Saturday.

“371 in 48 hours; that’s a massive amount,” Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel told the VI Free Daily on Sunday. “It reminds me of the old days when I was younger…We’ve been spoiled with some drier winters over the last four or five years. Last winter was the most bizarre winter ever; it was just sunny and cold all the time. This winter feels like it’s the 1970s and 1980s where it’s just a torrential downpour for six months.”

Noel is concerned about the weather’s effect on construction crews, notably the ones working on the provincial and federal government’s $38 million Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project.

“These kind of heavy rain events really put the construction crews even that much further behind schedule,” he said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Heavy rain on B.C. coast swells rivers, floods roads and forces evacuations

He said he received correspondence from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure regarding the highway work over the weekend, but it was not as detailed as he’d hoped.

“It was lacklustre…They gave me a non-exciting email, kind of generic, that they’re still working on the plan and hope to update us soon,” he said. “They’re going to be getting us some new information regarding the new timetable and their plan because everybody’s question is, ‘How are you going to blast the rock with a portable bridge in the way?’ Everybody’s just curious and curious minds want to know.”

READ MORE: Tofino-Ucluelet highway reopens after bridge installed earlier than expected

He said he expects to receive more information from the ministry this week and foresees being told the project’s completion date has been pushed back.

The Westerly News has reached out to the ministry for comment and will update this story as soon as new information comes in.

“This rain has been here since probably mid-December. I think we are all concerned about it, but we have no control of Mother Nature, so if it’s delayed, it’s delayed. We all just want to be informed of what the new schedule could look like,” he said. “We’ve always been told that in the summer of 2020 it’s done, that’s five months away. It sure looks like there’s more than five months of work out there.”

Ucluelet resident Liisa Nielsen is a fan of her town’s famously stormy winter months and said she enjoyed watching Mother Nature’s power from a cozy seat indoors with her dogs.

“It was great. It was incredible and awesome to see the amount of rain that fell,” she said. “My backyard turned into a marsh. I had red-winged blackbirds nesting in my backyard. There were ducks floating in my front yard and my chickens hated every moment of it…They’re not like ducks. They like to be on the dry side.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Storm watching at Wickaninnish Beach

Nielsen has lived in Ucluelet for 12 years and said she’s seen wetter weekends, but Thursday’s torrential downpour was the most rain she’d even seen at one time.

“It rained like three inches in six hours. That was the wettest it got the fastest in my recollection,” she said.

Noel said the cloudburst was one of the largest on record, but noted January was wet in general and he encourages West Coasters to get outside whenever the skies are clear.

“We live on the West Coast. We just get whatever we get when we wake up. Most of us are just more knuckled down inside and maybe doing more activities in our home,” he said. “It does probably get a little bit depressing and pulls them down a little bit. But, right now as we’re speaking, it’s sunny and I guarantee you that there’s probably people in the skate park and people walking the beaches, so you’ve got to just take your windows when they come.”

READ MORE: Winter hits Tofino and Ucluelet with snow and power outages

He said the district’s public works crew keeps an eye on heavy rainfalls because of the effects rough weather can have on Ucluelet’s water reservoir levels, but he added that no concerns were reported.

“In our community, as fast as the water comes, it seems to dissipate,” he said.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Woman rescued after breaking leg during “very nasty” storm in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Just Posted

Vancouver Island man warning others through video following cyber attack

Julian White had his online portfolio hacked less than two weeks ago.

Juno-nominated teen Vancouver Island singer to appear on ‘American Idol’

Lauren Spencer-Smith up for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for ‘Unplugged, Vol. 1’

Painful Truth: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

When the forestry industry caught a cold in the 1970s, it was enough to sicken the entire economy

Island Inked magazine cover hopeful receiving strong local voting support

Chemainus Secondary grad and Ladysmith resident a strong contender for the top prize

Victoria to see extra ships after cruise company cancels Asia tour in wake of COVID-19

Coronovirus fears cause Celebrity Cruises to head west early

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Demonstrators plan to shut down Pat Bay Highway Wednesday afternoon

Protest is in support of Wet’suwet’en First Nation

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Saanich man involved in cross-border drug smuggling sentenced to nine years

William Milton Barnes pleaded guilty to three charges related to drug delivery

Seven years later, Nanaimo animal trapping bylaw still isn’t approved

Animal trapping bylaw requires provincial approval before it can be adopted

Most Read