This week a storm battered communties along the west coast of Vancouver Island, as illustrated in the above photo from Amphitrite Point, near Ucluelet. (Wilson Jack photo) North of Tofino, residents in the remote community of Hot Springs Cove had to act quickly to save float docks that were knocked loose. (below photos by Lisa Sabbas)
A winter storm system packing high winds and rain hammered the coast of Vancouver Island this week. The storm knocked out power to several coastal communities and kept smaller boats off of the water for at least a day.
In Hot Springs Cove the storm not only kept locals storm-bound in the isolated community, but it also tore apart their floats. One person said the waves in the bay were so large that it looked like open ocean.
On Thursday morning residents discovered that the storm had torn apart shackles and chains that hold their float system together.
Hot Springs Cove is one of the more remote Nuu-chah-nulth communities, accessible only by boat or float plane. This makes their docking area, used for landing boats and float planes, especially important.
According to resident Cecil Sabbas, more than a dozen Hesquiaht members answered the call for help when they found that two fingers had broken away from the main float. “One finger drifted about 20 to 40 feet out with the boats still attached,” he said. They had to board boats and head out to the two the floats to return them while the storm was still raging.
The fingers were reattached with rope – a temporary fix.
According to Sabbas, this is the second time this has happened. About five years ago the floats broke away in another storm. At that time, Indian and Northern Affairs paid for the repairs, which included new anchors and chains.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sabbas of the storm. “We really need a breakwater; if we had a breakwater this wouldn’t be happening,” he added.
Hesquiaht elected Chief Richard Lucas met with his council this morning to discuss the problem. “We are going to start discussions with INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) to get some funding for a more permanent repair,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa.
According to Lucas, if the smaller floats had been lost it would create a situation where there would not be enough room to land a plane, because the boats would be tied up to the one remaining float.
“Our floats are quite old and we really need new ones, but we can never get support for that,” said Lucas. Hesquiaht has applied for upgrades in the past but Lucas says the federal government argues that the float is for the Indian Reserve and not public access, and so funding is denied. “We sell fuel from our dock and give fresh water to visiting boats, so I don’t know why it’s not considered public access,” said Lucas.
In the meantime, the floats in Hot Springs Cove are being held together with ropes and a few chains while the storm continues to rage on.