Nearly a year after being destroyed by floods, Highway 8 reopens

It took crews nearly a year to repair the damage to Highway 8 after major floods and rainfall washed out more than seven kilometres of road in November 2021. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation - image credit)
It took crews nearly a year to repair the damage to Highway 8 after major floods and rainfall washed out more than seven kilometres of road in November 2021. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation - image credit)

Nearly a year after it was destroyed by flooding, Highway 8 connecting Merritt to Spences Bridge has reopened, providing a vital link between residents and Indigenous communities who rely on the road for services and supplies.

More than 25 sections of the highway, found approximately 87 kilometres southeast of Kamloops, were washed out during heavy rain and flooding in November 2021, and seven kilometres of the highway were lost altogether, according to the B.C. Ministry of Transport.

As a result, rural residents and the Nooaitch, Shackan and Cook's Ferry First Nation communities were cut off from the rest of the province.

The ministry says crews are still actively completing construction as they build roadside barriers and rip-rap to help stabilize embankments.

"From the first day of the atmospheric river, people have gone above and beyond to help us to reach this important milestone,'' Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said in a statement.

"We all owe a huge debt of gratitude for the impressive work that crews and staff have done to reconnect the people and communities along Highway 8.''

Fish habitat being restored

The highway has previously served as a detour option during closures of the Trans-Canada or Coquihalla highways. However, the government says that is not yet a suitable option while Highway 8 remains a construction zone.

Work also continues to restore fish habitat, and the government says more than 5,000 fish were salvaged from isolated channels and returned to the Nicola River.

B.C. Ministry of Transportation
B.C. Ministry of Transportation

The flooding last November destroyed transportation links across British Columbia, at one point cutting off Metro Vancouver from the rest of Canada.

The Coquihalla Highway, a vital artery linking B.C.'s Lower Mainland with the rest of the province, was reopened to the public in January thanks to temporary repairs.

Agricultural operations 'back to normal': Minister

The floods also caused significant damage to British Columbia's agricultural land in Abbotsford, where more than 1,100 farms were under evacuation orders or alerts at the peak of the disaster. About 630,000 chickens, 420 cattle and 12,000 hogs died in the floods.

On Monday, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said most dairy and poultry farmers are "back to normal'' operations and the majority of annual field crops were planted, but it's been an emotional year, and many are crossing their fingers for good weather this season.