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Extreme runoff and flood risk prompts regional district to preventative action

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors has approved applications for grant money from two provincial programs, including $1.3 million to assess, map and mitigate flooding risks in the region. — Creative Commons photo

The regional district is looking to stay ahead of the increasingly troublesome spring flood season with two potential programs that could help track, mitigate and manage the potential for floods in the region.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors has approved applications for grant money from two provincial programs, including $1.3 million to assess, map and mitigate flooding risks in the region.

Last spring, numerous areas of the RDCK were under flood watch, some areas were evacuated and some property damage occurred as spring runoff water and rainfall combined to raise moving water levels dangerously high.

In an effort to reduce the impact of the flood water and avoid what has been a growing trend over the previous few spring runoffs, the regional district is submitting a joint application to the UBCM through its Community Emergency Preparedness Fund — funded via the province — for flood risk assessment, flood mapping and flood mitigation planning.

Flooding is a significant natural hazard in the West Kootenay that can damage important infrastructure, cause serious economic losses, and create social disruption, noted Andrew Bellerby, general manager of RDCK Fire and Emergency Services, and the writer of the grant applications.

Flooding in this region is due to intense rainfall, rain on snow, ice jams, rapid snowmelt and storm surges, as well as geomorphic processes including debris flows and landslides, he said in his report to the board on Oct. 19.

Climate change is proving to impact the frequency and magnitude of flooding in the region through changes to precipitation patterns, Bellerby stated.

“Therefore, it is important for local authorities to understand the flood hazards they face and how to mitigate these risks,” he said.

Part of the money is earmarked for flood risk assessment, flood mapping and flood mitigation planning, with the intention of developing accurate knowledge of the flood hazards faced in the region and to develop effective strategies to mitigate and prepare for those risks.

The risk assessment will identify the social, economic and environmental impacts that flood events will have on the community, including identifying the specific flood hazards, compounding hazards, community and infrastructure vulnerabilities.

As well, the overall flood risk profile for the communities will be mapped out.

The money would be used for light detection and ranging (Lidar) — a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth — and imagery as the first step in the preparedness process.

Regional district staff will submit the joint Flood Preparedness funding application to UBCM up to a maximum of $1,350,000 for the fall 2017 intake.

Emergency social services funding

The risk of flooding has also prompted the regional district to take action with dialing in its response to emergency situations.

The RDCK board is submitting a joint application to the UBCM for funding to enhance its Emergency Social Services program (ESS).

If successful, the money would be used for training and equipment purchases, including:

  • training and exercises to increase capacity and assist with the provision of effective emergency social services;
  • purchase of supplies and equipment (cots, blankets, reception centre kits, group lodging kits, storage containers for supplies); and
  • ESS volunteer equipment such as laptops, cell phones and office supplies.

“The public would benefit from having a better equipped ESS program available to them in case of emergency when they need it most,” said Bellerby in his report to the board.

He noted that some of the equipment would be purchased locally.

Regional district staff will submit the joint Emergency Social Services funding combined application to UBCM up to a maximum of $225,000 for the fall 2017 intake.

Glad to be in Glade

A letter of consent has been sent by the RDCK board to the Columbia Power Corporation supporting an amendment to the existing temporary license between Brilliant Power Corporation and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to allow the assembly of the new Glade Ferry in Glade Regional Park — owned by Brilliant Power Corporation/Regional District of Central Kootenay — with a few caveats.

The regional district is asking for the assembly of the ferry to be done in “a manner so as not to interfere with the public use and enjoyment of the park.”

As well, the regional board is asking that the park area be restored to its original condition following the assembly work, with the following conditions:

  • completion of an environmental/remediation plan prior to the commencement of the ferry assembly including fire suppression, hours of operation, soil contamination remediation, re-vegetation plans and any other RDCK Temporary Industrial Use Permit, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), Columbia Power Corporation

(CPC), Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and or other ministry or agency requirements;

  • immediate and ongoing consultation with adjacent property owners to minimize impact during ferry assembly; and
  • provision of a legacy project at Glade Regional Park, jointly funded by MOTI and the contractor, such as a covered picnic area or other community supported project after completion of the ferry assembly and site remediation