Wayne Jackaman, Jamie Constable, and Dave Burt, of the Jordan River Stewardship Roundtable standing on the contaminated soil at the edge of the Jordan River. (Contributed)

Jordan River is his home and he’s working to save it

Wayne Jackaman’s own mining background put to use to help save Jordan River

Wayne Jackaman is a geographer, mining explorationist, and an ardent environmentalist who is passionate about holding those who have damaged Jordan River accountable.

“I lived in Sooke for 25 years, but about 14 years ago I bought the property at Jordan River. I built a house here about four years ago after my kids finished school,” Jackaman said.

“It’s my home.”

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He speaks about his new home with pride and sense of hope for the future.

“There are 110 lots that are being developed and close to 200 people living here already. It’s a growing community and the future may lie in the tourist industry,” Jackaman said.

“We have people from all over the world coming here now to hike the Juan de Fuca trail and appreciate the natural world in a way that’s hard to do in this day and age.”

But Jackaman is also realistic about Jordan River.

“It looks pristine, but when you look behind the curtain there is this other side to the community,” Jackaman said.

“I knew that there were (environmental) issues here and got involved in the stewardship round table to see what I could do to help.”

The environmental issues go back over 100 years when mining, forestry and hydropower all combined to leave a legacy of heavy metal contamination, wood waste dumps, hydrocarbon contamination and more. The net effect was to virtually destroy the Jordan River’s traditional salmon runs.

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“The mine tailings were an issue, but B.C. Hydro is the biggest culprit in this story,” Jackaman said.

“The construction and operation of a hydroelectric dam and power plant starting in 1911 destroyed the original estuary and most of the habitat necessary to support fish populations.”

But despite his concern for the environment, Jackaman has a broader view of the need for industrial activities, and it’s a view that has helped to find some constructive solutions.

His own background working with the mining industry has put him in a unique position to appreciate the issues plaguing Jordan River.

“Working in the industry, I recognize that communities can’t survive without the economic benefits from industries, including mining,” Jackaman said.

“But in Jordan River these companies have generated billions of dollars in benefits and they now have a responsibility to come back and clean up the mess they’ve made. What we have here is the legacy of mismanagement and failure of oversight.”

He said that real solutions depend on doing things in a positive way so that industry comes to the table and puts all the tools that they have sometimes used to fight environmentalists to use doing something positive.

He credited Teck, one of the largest mining companies in the world for taking on a lead role as a legacy operator of the mine in the region. He said that the company didn’t have to step up, but did and that it was emblematic of the sort of responsible action that’s necessary to allow Jordan River to recover.

“To this point, we haven’t actually had a lot of support from the government, but we have a great group of volunteers in this community, and we’re not going to give up.”

Jackaman’s hope is that he will see the return of the salmon to Jordan River and that the natural world in which he now makes his home is returned to a truly pristine environment.


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