Meeting heats up over flood control

Dutch Valley residents seek help as Skeena River waters start to rise

LAST NIGHT’S Kitimat-Stikine regional district board meeting heated up as Dutch Valley residents vented their frustrations with the lack of any flood protection measures on their properties.

James Wold, who led the pitch for the need for flooding protection at the board’s March meeting, said that despite the regional district’s word that they would have a plan in two weeks, it had been two months now and residents were still waiting.

Time was running out because the Skeena River is close to flooding, he said.

We might not get a chance [to prevent flooding]. I’m here to get flood protection for the families in Dutch Valley except me because I’ve rejected the plan for flooding control.”

When asked by Thornhill director Ted Ramsey why he opted out, Wold said he understood that signing on to the cost sharing plan meant the valley would get flood protection before flooding came, which isn’t going to happen.

He explained that he had originally relented and had signed a petition asking that a service area be created so residents could be taxed for measures such as flood protection.

But he said he and his wife were later given to understand the petition had been lost.

That being the case, Wold said, he asked for his signature to be removed from the petition because it was now too late to have any protection work done.

Board vice-chair and Hazelton mayor Alice Maitland said she knew the provincial government was involved and had been in contact with the regional district just yesterday.

Board director Dave Brocklebank said the board has to go through a process to get financial assistance.

We don’t have a pot of money we can access anytime,” he said.

District of Stewart director Billie Ann Belcher said the plan was for erosion control, which would keep the riverbank from wearing away, and not flood protection.

Dikes for flood protection are much, much more expensive but the board could certainly look into it, she said.

Dutch Valley resident Ken White then stood and yelled, with a few expletives, that the board should be doing its job to help the valley.

She’s the one out doing your job,” he said of another valley resident, Jennifer Morgan, who had been circulating the petition requesting a service area.

[Expletive] you people, we pay for you guys and you do nothing,” he said. “You guys are just [expletive] pathetic.”

He stormed out of the meeting room and making more comments as he left the office.

Morgan said residents understand that the help they would get would be erosion control and that if they don’t become a service area then the board and district can’t help them.

Wold, who thanked regional district director Doug McLeod for trying to help the residents by coming out to his place and looking at the problem along with regional district engineers, asked if the board would put McLeod in charge of overseeing the work to protect the valley so it would be done properly.

Afterward in the hallway, Wold said the flooding this year would be way worse than 2007 because the riverbank that was there back then had washed away, leaving no protection.

It’s falling in right now and the river is not even close,” he said about his land.

He said that 10 years ago the valley could have had flood protection for $50,000 and now the board says it would cost $500,000.