High river flows cause evacuation of Peace Island Park

Photo by Chris Newton

TAYLOR, B.C. – Heavy rainfall across the Peace in the past week has swollen the levels of the Peace and Pine Rivers, and lead to the evacuation of Peace Island Park’s campground.

Head caretaker Barb Bell says that approximately 30 people that were camping on the island were moved to other campsites starting at around 9:00 this morning. Bell says that the evacuation took between three and hours to complete, but added that only 2 campers ended up going home for the weekend, with the rest continuing their camping holiday. She added that campsite staff had been monitoring the river levels near the causeway to the island throughout the night, and made the decision to get campers off the island pre-emptively in case river levels rose further.

With record amounts of rainfall in the Fort St. John area over the past few weeks, area rivers have seen elevated stream flows. According to data from Environment Canada’s stream gauge near Taylor, the peak water level of the river has gone up from approximately 2.95 metres on August 27th, to 3.8 metres earlier today.

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Compared to the river gauge located upstream of the confluence of the Peace and Pine Rivers, the difference is water level is close to one metre, with the Peace peaking at approximately 2.85 metres.

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Bell says that the Pine River’s elevated flow is the main cause of the island’s causeway becoming in danger of being overtopped. Officials with the Peace Country River Rats, who are hosting the Taylor Flats 200 jet boat races this weekend, say that the average speed of the Pine River is approximately 11 miles per hour, according to timing data gathered during the race.

Though the forecast is calling for sunnier skies this week, Bell says that there is a possibility that the island will be closed for the remainder of the camping season, and will reopen next Spring.