The Sand Pebbles Inn in Qualicum Beach suffered significant damage after giant waves battered the town’s waterfront on Friday (Jan. 7).
The heritage business, in existence for 65 years, lost its sea wall and the water brought down some parts of the building’s outer structure.
Manager Danielle Filmer said they were not expecting the massive waves.
“This has never happened before,” said Filmer. “It was quite a high tide yesterday and I have never seen the water come over the wall like that.”
There were guests inside the building when it happened, who were eventually evacuated safely.
It was a frightening experience, said Filmer.
“I was scared,” said Filmer. “It happened so quickly, all in an hour. It got flooded then the wall came down and the water rushed out. It was pretty nuts.”
Filmer said they will remain closed for a while and didn’t know when they will re-open.
At the moment, the damages to the building and seawall are being assessed. Filmer said they’re already expecting repair cost to be extensive.
“We own the wall so it’s not the (town’s) wall,” said Filmer. “To even put something in for the winter, just a little wall of some kind, will be already over $100,000.”
None of the rooms were flooded said Filmer, who said it is unfortunate they have been dealt a harsh blow just as they are recovering from the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Although they have insurance, Filmer said, they’re not sure how much coverage they will receive.
“We’re still waiting,” said Filmer.
The Town of Qualicum Beach has looked at the impact of the king tide event to its own waterfront infrastructure. Acting CAO Heather Svensen said the town-owned portion of the seawall was not damaged but additional staff time will be required to clean and remove the debris strewn over the area.
Many of the other buildings and structures at the waterfront escaped major damage.
The Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce building, situated just a couple of yards away from the Sand Pebbles Inn, sustained only minor damage, said executive director Kim Burden.
“We had small damage to the side of the building but it’s not a big deal,” said Burden. “But it’s a mess out there. The force of nature is amazing.”
Burden said they also checked on the Qualicum Beach Rotary Club, which the chamber takes care of, and it was spared any major damage. But it will also require some cleanup.
“There’s lots of gravel that has been strewn up on the lawn,” said Burden. “Again no big damage – but it’s a big mess.”