British Columbia

BC Hydro buys out properties below Jordan River dam

BC Hydro has finalized the purchase of all but one of the properties that could be flooded and destroyed in the event of an earthquake. A magnitude 8.0 or 9.0 quake could destroy the Jordan River dam, so BC Hydro has been trying to relocate residents.

Dam could collapse from a magnitude 8.0 or 9.0 earthquake, so BC Hydro wanted residents out

The Jordan River Park is a popular spot for surfers. (Sam Beebe / Flickr)

This month, BC Hydro finalized the buyout of all but one of the properties below its Jordan River diversion dam on Vancouver Island, and that means many of the homes along the beach-front will be removed.

The area below the dam was declared the most seismic-prone area in B.C. and possibly even in Canada in 2014. That led BC Hydro to buy properties that might be destroyed by a dam collapse in the event of a magnitude 8.0 or 9.0 earthquake.

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks says everyone except for one person living in 11 private residences has negotiated a buyout, and BC Hydro also finalized the purchase of a Capital Regional District campground for over $3 million.

"They didn't want to go. They never thought they would go, they certainly didn't own their homes to leave or speculate on them, and they're leaving," Hicks told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"I haven't heard anyone say they weren't fairly compensated, however, I don't think anyone wanted to go."

Hicks said the campground that was purchased by BC Hydro will still be open to campers, but the public utility agreed to install an early-warning earthquake system at a cost of $150,000.

"They don't want people sleeping there, having a house, having parties on Friday night, and the thing breaks and everyone dies," he said.

"That's their message, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the best of a bad situation."

Jordan River used to have over 1,000 residents, but over time that number has dwindled to just over 100.

Hicks says while this is the end of people living in the lower part of the town, there are new houses being built "about a half a mile away."

"There's definitely an increase in people buying a couple acres and building a home and retiring there," he said, adding the area is still popular with surfers.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Jordan River properties below dam bought out over earthquake concerns