B.C. Hydro selling Jordan River property

Pacheedaht First Nation has designs on land

The hamlet of Jordan River. (Sooke News Mirror)

B.C. Hydro is preparing to sell more than 28 hectares of land at Jordan River.

Hydro officials met with the Capital Regional District’s Juan de Fuca land use committee to launch a rezoning application that would limit land use.

The future of Jordan River has been up for debate since B.C. Hydro announced a major earthquake would destroy its dam and wipe out the homes below. It has bought all but one home along the main strip.

Last year, B.C. Hydro also bought 15 hectares of land in the flood zone, including the old town site, from the CRD for $13.3 million. The CRD still owns the land south of West Coast Road as part of the remaining 165 hectares it purchased for parkland in 2010.

RELATED: No firm answers for Jordan River residents

B.C. Hydro is seeking to rezone the land to sell it, but wants restrictions on use, such as no permanent overnight dwelling or housing.

“It’s to be sure the public won’t be compromised down the road,” said Ted Olynk, B.C. Hydro’s community relations manager for Vancouver Island. “This is about managing risk.”

The Pacheedaht First Nation is a likely buyer for the property. Jordan River is the origin site of the Pacheedaht and archaeological digs have identified two historic villages near the river’s mouth.

Pacheedaht First Nation members presented their ideas for Jordan River to the CRD board in May.

Their plan includes possible surf sites, traditional Nuu-chah-nulth canoe rentals, an interpretive centre and restaurants featuring a Pacheedaht salmon bake.

CRD Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks expects the Jordan River lands to be part of treaty negotiations.

“It is my belief that the Pacheedaht are going to purchase this land from B.C. Hydro,” said Hicks, adding if bought outright would be subject to municipal rules and regulation, but as part of a treaty settlement allows the Pacheedaht to do “whatever they wish.”

B.C. Hydro must follow the provincial government policy on selling Crown land, with the over-arching goal of a fair return, based on market value for the land.

The land use committee has given the first two reading to a bylaw for the zoning change. A public hearing is expected early in the new year.


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