By Andrea Arnold
The section of the Dore River that flows between Highway 16 and Museum Road just outside of McBride could have flood mitigation infrastructure put into place within the next year.
In June 2020, several homes along this stretch of river lost many feet of property as the river rose and raged beyond its banks.
One concern of homeowners adjacent to the river is the loss of more land, but there are also concerns about the stability of water and septic systems serving 22 residences in the area.
In March 2021, a small portion of the bank was fortified with riprap, mostly funded by a Regional District Grant in Aid received by the Dore River Climate Control Action Society. This is a non-profit society comprised of local residents.
To help install more protective infrastructure, the Regional District of Fraser Fort George applied to Infrastructure Canada’s Adaptation Resilience and Disaster Mitigation’s grant program. In April 2021, RDFFG received confidential and conditional approval. Although the source of the funding was not made public until August 5, 2022, work was being done to meet the conditions.
“The grant is for just shy of 2.5 million,” said Renee McCloskey, Manager of External Relations for the Regional District. “There are lots of boxes to check before the physical work can start.”
McCloskey explained that one of these conditions is that if the money is being invested into infrastructure creation along the river, that the Regional District take ownership of it and maintain it. In order to do that, they need to establish it as a taxable service, what the Regional District has dubbed the Dore Riverfront Armouring Management and Maintenance Service Area.
“In order to proceed with the steps to create the service, a minimum 50 per cent of the impacted property owners agreement needed to be received,” McCloskey said.
At the June 2022 meeting, the board granted approval to petition the residents. In June and August of 2022, the 22 landowners were sent letters with information about the petition process. The petition itself was mailed out the week of June 20.
The letters explained that if the service was established, each landowner would see an additional new parcel tax of $455 annually (bringing the combined amount to $10,000). 50 per cent of the forms were sent back to the Regional District agreeing to the tax.
At the December 15 2022 meeting, the board voted to proceed to the next steps in establishing the service. However, before the board can implement the service, it needs to pass approval by the Inspector of Municipalities in Victoria before returning to the RDFFG for adoption.
In the meantime, work is being done to meet the other federal grant conditions. Before work can commence, and the grant be distributed, the Department of Fisheries and Water Stewardship need to give final approval of the proposed work. They have indicated that they are in support of the application in general, but final approval can not be guaranteed until the construction window has been decided on and final plans have been made.
The funder also requires Indigenous government consultation. Seven Indigenous Governments have been engaged by the Regional District. As a result, a request for on-site cultural monitors and the initiation of an Archaeological Impact Assessment (before construction can be initiated.) This assessment requires testing that needs a permit, expected to be received no earlier than Spring 2023.
“This is a great accomplishment and goes to show what can be done with hard work, cooperation and perseverance,” said area H Regional District Board Director Dannielle Alan. “I appreciate the enormous amount of work that the staff of the Regional District and the Dore River residents have done, and continue to do to push this project forward. I would also like to thank MLA Shirley Bond and MP Bob Zimmer for their support and care for the residents of the Robson Valley.”
If all the approvals come through, the infrastructure, the installation of tonnes of large stone along the riverbank (rip rap), needs to be complete by the end of 2023 in order for the grant funding to be guaranteed. If all conditions are met, the contracts to complete the work will be open for bid.