Only man left in B.C. beachside community says he won’t give up his cabin

Hugh Pite's cabin

What would it take for you to give up your little piece of paradise?

That’s the question we’re pondering after learning about a B.C. man, who’s the only one left in Jordan River, a beachside hamlet turned ghost town. Ten of the community’s 11 cabins have been boarded up and will either be demolished or moved.

The Jordan River dam area has long been identified as a tsunami zone, and in 2014, it was recognized as the most seismic-prone community in the province—in other words, where an earthquake is most likely to hit.

After the six-year study, which utilized experts including seismologists, physicists, and geologists to assess the potential hazards a major earthquake could have on hydropower facilities, BC Hydro offered to buy all of the properties in Jordan River at fair market value.

“[The community] was built in the wrong location, knowing what we know now,” BC Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk told CBC News. “There’s no other dam built so close to such a large earthquake area.”

He said that the dam is at risk of failing in the case of a magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake, but the community’s lone resident, 72-year-old Hugh Pite, is not too concerned.

“I’m right across the road from the water and I go out there and I go surfing,” he told CBC. “If I didn’t have the place there, I’d have to drive an hour and a half each way, which is in my opinion far more dangerous than the very slight chance of an earthquake.”

The view from Pite’s cabin. Photo by Google Maps.

Pite has owned his waterfront cabin since the late 1980s. The retired oceanographer lives with his wife in Brentwood Bay, but makes the drive to his oceanside retreat each week for a few days of surf and solitude. He told reporters that a lot has changed since he first bought his cabin, and the community is about to change a whole lot more.

According to reports, the vacant houses are scheduled for demolition in late March, and the properties they sit on will be reseeded with grass.

Pite made it clear when talking to the Times Colonist that he’s never been pressured to sell his place, and that BC Hydro haven’t forced anyone out. Since the hamlet’s other residents have left, they have asked him if he’s changed his mind, but Pite wants to continue to grow old there—no matter how lonely it gets.

“It’s quite possible I become so decrepit that I can’t surf anymore,” he said. “But I can still come here and look out the window and surf vicariously.”