DUTCH VALLEY residents demanded an answer from the regional district tonight about flooding control in their area.
Fourteen people, plus several children, came out to the regional district monthly board meeting March 23 to support James Wold, who spoke to the board about the need for immediate flood protection in the valley.
“[We’re] asking the board for some help before the flooding starts,” he said.
The situation in Dutch Valley is serious with its property and river bank erosion, he said.
“The least amount of flooding is bad enough. If there’s extra like in 2007, it will be a disaster,” said Wold.
Bob Marcellin, regional district administrator, said that residents would have to pay 20 per cent of the cost for flood protection and the feeling from them was that they were reluctant to pay.
“I live in Dutch Valley and I wasn’t approached at all. As far as I know, none of these people were approached,” said Wold.
If the regional district wanted to do erosion control that would cost about $500,000 and flooding protection would cost a lot more, said Marcellin.
Marcellin added that Dutch Valley wasn’t alone: Brauns Island, Usk and Old and New Remo were all at risk of flooding too.
Wold said that Remo got $78,000 and Dutch Valley got nothing.
“They (Remo) participated in a provincial grant and came up with their share,” said Marcellin.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski asked Wold what was needed for flood protection.
“Rip rap,” said Wold.
“The river is going to come right down to Dutch Valley. If it leaks a little bit and come through the rip rap, we can handle it. We’re used to it,” said Wold.
Another valley resident, who was sitting in the audience, got up and showed the board photos of her yard, saying that it doesn’t usually have a “water feature.”
Wold said that he was told by a government official that the provincial government would pay for all of the flood protection as long as the residents did the maintenance on it afterward.
“…and if that’s done properly, there should be no maintenance on it for years,” he said.
“I could do the job myself.”
Doug McLeod asked for a motion to refer the issue to administration, who could then get back to the board so it could understand how much money is needed and so the residents understand it too.
As other residents spoke up, acting chair Alice Maitland told them that the motion would be referred to administration and then the residents would be contacted.
Doug McLeod said he had talked to minister Shirley Bond’s office and was told that the money we received three years ago and applied for was still available until 2014.
“In the interim, if it floods, there’s erosion control and [the regional district] can put money in it when flooding is imminent,” said Marcellin.
Wold said he was told nothing can be done once the valley has flooded.
“We get four feet of water, and the trucks [with rip rap] can’t get in there,” he said.
If flooding protection isn’t done in the next month and a half, the valley is gone, he added.
Maitland took a moment to clarify the motion: to refer the issue to administration to see what grants are available and then get back to the residents by April 20, the next board meeting.
Pernarowski said it shouldn’t take more than one week for the administration to find out about grants and contact the residents.
Another resident asked if the board could try to find out and get back to them in one week and to guarantee that it would be done in two weeks.
Maitland said the administrative staff couldn’t be held to a short schedule like that.
At that point, the board voted unanimously in favour of the motion.
Dave Brocklebank said he had asked a while back if the concrete left on the old Skeena Cellulose site could be used as rip rap to cut down on costs.
Wold said it wasn’t the rock that cost so much, it was the trucking costs.
Concrete put in on his property as protection is not nearly as good as rip rap because it’s light and will just float down the river.
“It does help, it’s better than nothing,” he said, reiterating that rip rap was needed.