Disaster designation saves Castlegar taxpayers considerable cost
City of Castlegar taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief, as recent extreme weather has been, by the province, designated such that it allows the city to apply for funding for flood management and reparation costs.
Overland flooding in Castlegar from June 22 to July 2 has been so designated, while an application has been submitted to see similar designation for the flood of July 17.
This is great news for Castlegar taxpayers, according to city director of financial services Andre Buss.
"The city will be making application for any municipal infrastructure damage that we incurred, as well as for any response we undertook to minimize flood-related damages," he said, explaining the cost burden, although not yet calculable as parts of the city remain underwater, would be a massive burden for taxpayers, were it not for disaster relief funding.
Emergency Management B.C. manager of recovery and funding programs Johanna Morrow said there's no cap on the funding for which municipalities can apply, as assistance is designated for, "any essential infrastructure that is damaged by a qualifying event".
When asked if city parks like Millennium and Zuckerbergs would be considered 'essential', Morrow said, "One of the things we don't do is landscaping - but a park is essential to the community."
There was also some slippage of the clay bank at the city's sewage lagoon which, along with the lift station, the city reinforced with rock and coverings to prevent further flood damage, not to mention minor mudslides throughout the city and a huge range of pre-flood preparation and post-flood clean-up that would almost certainly create a huge divot in the city budget without disaster funding.
An issue that remains, according to city manager John Malcolm, is whether to proceed with designs to enhance Millennium Park with a water feature that will include a lazy river.
“We’re going to have to review the water feature to see how this flood would have impacted it, and to determine if there’s a better design or placement (in the event of similar flooding in the future),” he said.
Russ Hearne, city councillor and chair of council’s finance committee, said he’s very pleased with the designations, if not with the events that inspired them.
“I think it’s obviously a good thing – we were on the hook for quite a bit of money, paying staff time-and-a-half, sometimes double time for the crazy hours they were working – and thank goodness they were able and willing to,” he said, “It’ll be great to be able to recover some of those costs.”