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Large sinkhole obstructs access to Ditidaht First Nation

Excavator used to open alternate access

An excavator was deployed to open an alternate road access to the Ditidaht First Nation, west of Lake Cowichan, due to a sinkhole that is blocking the road to the community.

Measuring three feet wide and four feet deep, the sinkhole has created instability across the entire road near Gus Bay, according to a press release from the First Nation.

It has severed vital transportation routes, posing significant safety concerns and cutting off emergency access to the community.

The deteriorating road conditions have long been a pressing issue, impacting not only daily commutes but also emergency response times.


“The current situation underscores the urgent need for upgrades to bring the road to provincial standards,” the release said.

“Despite repeated calls for action from the First Nation, road improvements have been delayed for far too long, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of the community.”

The affected area, an industrial gravel road outside of Nitinaht Community, has been marked with safety indicators, and local members are stationed on-site to redirect traffic and ensure the safety of drivers.

“It is imperative for all individuals to exercise caution and heed the guidance provided by authorities,” the release said.

“This swift action (by the excavator) aims to restore crucial transportation routes and alleviate the immediate impact on residents and travellers.”


Judi Thomas, Ditidaht’s chief councillor, said the First Nation recognizes the severity of the situation and is committed to addressing it with the urgency it demands.

“Ensuring the safety and accessibility of our community members and visitors is paramount, and we are working diligently to expedite the necessary road improvements,” she said.

“The Ditidaht First Nation urges all residents and travellers to prioritize safety and cooperation during this challenging time.”

Updates by the First Nation on the road status and alternate routes will be provided as soon as they become available.

The Ministry of Forests said resource roads serve as crucial links for First Nations and rural communities, and the ministry knows how distressing it is when that access is impacted.

But the ministry said in a release that access to Nitinaht Lake and Nitinaht Village is predominantly via permit roads that are held by timber forest licensees, who are responsible for maintaining the access routes.

“Keeping people safe is always the top priority, and the Ministry of Forests actively followed up with the licence holder of the permit road,” the ministry said.

“We understand that they are currently working with the community, and the community has patched the road to allow access in and out of the village. Further assessment will also be done by the licensee to determine next steps.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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