House in B.C. Interior on the verge of collapsing into the Nicola River

·3 min read
A house on Highway 8 in B.C.'s Interior is at risk of collapsing into the Nicola River. (Micheal MacArthur and Brandi Coutts - image credit)
A house on Highway 8 in B.C.'s Interior is at risk of collapsing into the Nicola River. (Micheal MacArthur and Brandi Coutts - image credit)

A house located along Highway 8 in B.C.'s Interior, used by a family as a second home, is on the verge of collapsing into the Nicola River, which has been carving out the side of the highway since heavy flooding hit the region.

The property was badly damaged during last November's atmospheric river event that caused widespread flooding and washed out huge portions of highways, including parts of the Coquihalla and Highway 8.

Edith Rubner's father bought the 70-acre property in 1972. The river has taken 15 acres of land thus far, including equipment, vehicles, storage sheds, the pumphouse and their electricity.

"It's been devastating ever since Nov. 15," she told Sarah Penton, the host of CBC's Radio West. It has been anxiety, and it's been devastation, and there's not much we can do. Our hands are tied."

Micheal MacArthur and Brandi Coutts
Micheal MacArthur and Brandi Coutts

Rubner says all that's left are the house trailer and the porch, which is currently about four feet away from the widening river bank.

She and her siblings have watched for months as the river swallows more and more land. Rubner says not enough is being done to save her family's property.

"The salvage company is able to take anything out of the river that is in the river and has all kinds of money for that," she said. "However, the trailer is not in the river yet. Therefore, they don't have the money to move the trailer."

The trailer was moved back approximately 25 feet from the river's edge in May, but the land has quickly eroded since then.

No road access to property

The Thompson Nicola Regional District said in a statement to CBC that there is no road access to the property, making any rescue efforts challenging.

Last week, district staff, contractors and two of Rubner's siblings flew to the site by helicopter to look at options and remove items where possible. The TNRD statement says it is considering options, including using an old piece of machinery on site to move the trailer, flying a machine in with a helicopter, or trying to get an excavator from a nearby worksite farther down the river.

"The last thing we want to see is this trailer going into the river and adding to the ongoing cleanup," it said in the statement.

Micheal MacArthur and Brandi Coutts
Micheal MacArthur and Brandi Coutts

The most hazardous materials, including a propane tank and a shed full of fuels and solvents, have already been removed. The neighbouring property owners across the river have kept Rubner and authorities updated with photos.

The province said in a statement attributable to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change that the property falls under the TNRD's jurisdiction.

Rubner has all but lost hope that the trailer will be salvaged before falling into the river.

"It's sad because that was our recreational property," she said. "We would go there with my father, and we would enjoy each other's company and enjoy him in his last days [at home]."

Listen to Edith Rubner tell CBC host Sarah Penton about the imminent danger of her house collapsing into the Nicola River:

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