VIDEO: Massive waves destroy chunks of Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail

Some viewpoints will be closed for the foreseeable future because you won’t even know they were there

The largest waves to hit the West Coast in recent memory hammered Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail last week smashing viewing decks, destroying bridges and sending benches flying.

“Waves picked up benches weighing close to 1,000 pounds and flung them 50 feet,” the Wild Pacific Trail Society’s President Barbara Schramm told the Westerly News on Monday. “These waves shifted decks that are the size of a small house.”

She said various sections of the trail are now inaccessible and that the heaviest damage was done to the northern area around the trail’s Artists Loops section.

“It was repeatedly struck over many hours. It wasn’t just one wave. It was a continuous process,” she said. “We really do need the public to pay attention to the closed sections. They think, ‘Oh well, it’s no big deal, but they’ll encounter having to wade through a creek.”

She added the trail’s Lighthouse Loop section, which features the popular Amphitrite Lighthouse, was also affected.

“To the north of the lighthouse, there’s huge bites out of the trail,” she said. “There’s some viewpoints that will be closed for the foreseeable future because you won’t even know they were there.”

Schramm said the society is currently assessing the damage and putting a strategy together for repairs.

“There’s also sections inaccessible by equipment, which makes it a lot harder,” she said. “We’re looking at hand-work. These places are inaccessible. You can’t bring an excavator in and pick up a deck.”

She added the damaged viewing decks were shifted by the waves, but did not blow apart thanks to the work of Wild Pacific Trail creator Oyster Jim Martin.

“What’s amazing is that he constructed these so strong that they didn’t fly apart. They just got shifted off their foundations,” she said. “Imagine something strong enough to shift these massive decks, but they were so over-engineered that they stayed in one piece.”

The repair costs are currently unknown, though Schramm noted, “It cost tens of thousands to put it in, so that’s what we need to put it back.”

“We don’t have the money it’s going to take to replace these bridges and decks. It took 20 years to build what’s out there with a slow trickle of donations,” she said. “We’re reliant on donations. This is not a taxpayer’s burden.”

Donations can be made through the trail’s website or Facebook page.

“Small amounts from a lot of people would go a long way,” Schramm said adding the trail is an important local feature to support. “There’s nothing like it in the world and it’s worth rebuilding what was damaged.”

While the waves roared through, many locals and visitors descended on the trail to experience the ocean’s power and Schramm was happy to see Ucluelet’s district office working diligently to ensure stormwatchers stayed safe.

“The district showed up all hands on deck and physically prevented people from hurting themselves. They were amazing,” she said. “Everyone did their jobs really, really, well.”

She said tourists continue flocking to the trail, particularly around the lighthouse, and she urges locals to spread the word about being CoastSmart.

“We’ve now become famous as storm-central,” she said. “We’re being flooded with people wanting to see these waves and my personal fear is that they will put themselves in harm’s way. They’ll go out beyond the trails and get themselves killed.”

Anyone heading out to the trail must stay away from rocks and closed areas.

“A wave weighs a tonne per cubic metre,” Schramm said. “People think they’re just going to get a little wet. Would they stand in front of a semi-truck barrelling at them at 60 miles per hour? Of course not. But, that’s what a wave is. They don’t get that sense of fear that they should…A wave that can shatter a house shouldn’t be played with.”

Schramm has lived in Ucluelet for about 30 years and said she’d never seen anything like Thursday and Friday’s storms.

“I think this is an extraordinary event, but, with climate change, we can’t rule out that this becomes more frequent,” she said.

Just Posted

Head-on collision in Saanich draws attention to rural road safety

Saanich says additional road safety measures are already planned or underway

Watershed concerns prompt opposition to alternate Malahat routes

Motion submitted to Regional Water Supply Commission opposing highway in watershed

Remembering Nirvana in Victoria on Cobain’s 52 birthday

Nirvana played one show in Victoria on March 8, 1991 at the Forge

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

Flu season could last until May — Greater Victoria clinics offer flu shots

Vaccines are available through public health clinics, pharmacies and doctor’s offices

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls

Most Read