The Village of Valemount will be shouldering part of the bill for emergency work to mitigate the flooding hazard along Swift Creek.
Emergency response and “recovery work” that takes place after the flood are funded differently. While response is fully covered, recovery is only funded up to 80 per cent.
During the past few weeks, high stream flow has challenged the creek banks, leading to evacuations and a boil water order. The high stream flow almost tore through some berms and endangered the village pump house. While emergency stop-gap work has been done, the village is now facing a creek that is much more vulnerable than it was before, says Valemount Mayor Andru McCracken.
“If we have a flood, we could say even a quarter of the size we had on that day, our banks will be challenged and we’ll be in an emergency situation again,” McCracken said. “This is not imminent doom but it’s something we need to get done.”
The government’s emergency program will not fund anything that is not a response to an imminent threat.
“They’re very picky. If something is not in jeopardy of being wiped off the map, they won’t fund that response.”
At a special council meeting July 4th, Council reviewed its option for applying for recovery of costs. The village does not have the means to fund the recovery work, and is requesting assistance from the Provincial Emergency Program.
The Provincial Emergency Program will fund 80 per cent of the cost of further work, but the rest of the cost falls to village – roughly $160,000.
Council agreed to submit the application based on initial cost estimates. The recovery will include the following, though cost estimates are still rough:
1. $20,000 for expert assistance in planning excavation of sediment and debris from the reservoir behind the weir, Regulatory and Government Agency Advice, Environmental and Impact Assessment, Mitigation of Habitat Impacts Planning, Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) Assessments – Riparian condition assessments with respect to stream bank stability, large woody debris input and fish habitat
2. $25,000 for excavation of sediment and debris from reservoir. According to the village, the reservoir had a depth of 3 – 4 metres prior to this High Water Event, which has now been reduced to less than 1 metre. This will likely require the services of a long reach excavator, a service not available locally. This could mean a low bed haul from up to six hours away.
3. $35,000 for repairs to weir. Several blocks from the weir were dislodged and are gone, while many of the remaining blocks have been shifted. The integrity of the weir is compromised and the blocks need to be relocated to bring the weir back to a resilient state.
4. $5,000 for removal of concrete railway ties from stream side of bank. The ties were temporarily placed on the stream side of the left bank just above the pumping station to stabilize the area, but as they contain metal, they will need to be removed.
5. $700,000 for armouring of weakened and compromised banks in risk areas. The village reports many areas of the berm on the right side of the bank were weakened and would likely not withstand another event such as this. The berm has been completely washed away in one area, resulting in no current access to the bank. Re-establishing the berm may require in-stream work, and the services of a long reach excavator
6. $15,000 for shoring of dam below the weir. A dam built to protect private property as well as Highway 5 and the Highway 5 bridge over Swift Creek requires additional shoring. As well, replantation of vegetation stripped to build the dam is necessary to strengthen the soil base behind the dam.
7. $3000 to repair of area where channel was dug to drain ponding.
8. $20,000 for project management, technical assistance in planning and executing the most effective recovery of the prior state