Nearly three million dollars is being invested to help protect the homes of residents living along the Dore River near McBride.”  The money will provide 1200 metres of large rocks- riprap along stretches of river bank that are particularly vulnerable to erosion during high water. /ANDREA ARNOLD

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has received almost three million dollars from the Province’s Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for erosion protection project on the banks of the DorÔ© River.” 

The District has opened an invitation to tender on BCBid, meaning that businesses can submit proposals outlining their services and projected costs of the project.

About four kilometres northwest of the Village of McBride, the DorÔ© River has seen intense flooding within the past several years. In June 2020, a 100-year flood event contributed to significant erosion of the river, according to a hydrologic and geomorphic assessment of the river commissioned by the District.

Following this flooding, McBride resident Robert O’Lennick installed riprap – a layer of large stones meant to prevent soil erosion in high-flow areas – along a 110-metre section of the riverbank downstream from the Highway 16 bridge over the river. 

Although O’Lennick paid for some of the cost out-of-pocket, the riprap was partly funded by a Regional District Grant in Aid obtained by the DorÔ© River Climate Control Action Society.

While the hydraulic capacity of the river has grown since the 2020 flood – meaning that higher volumes of water can flow through the river channel, lowering flood and erosion risk – there is still a chance of more bank erosion in the future, the assessment says. 

In an email to The Goat, representative of the Regional District Hilary Erasmus said that 22 properties would benefit from armouring the riverbanks to prevent future flooding.

As such, the District applied for the Disaster Risk Reduction-Climate Adaptation stream of the Community Emergency Preparedness fund, which is intended to support projects which reduce the risk of future natural disasters.The money will go towards the installation of riprap and adding plants to the riverbank, Erasmus said.

According to the hydrologic assessment, riprap will have to be installed along 1,200 metres of the riverbank. Revegetating the riverbank will also aid in erosion protection, the assessment says.

The proposed area for riprap installation, which can be viewed on the BCBid webpage, covers outer bends of the river between the Highway 16 bridge and the Museum Road bridge further downstream. 

The area where O’Lennick previously installed riprap appears to be included in the project, but it is not clear in the proposal how much attention will be given to the already riprapped surface. The new owners of the property confirmed that the rock used in the original riprap installation in 2021 consists of rock that is much smaller in size than what is needed to provide effective protection against erosion. They expect some additional rock will be placed along their waterfront, but not the whole area re-surfaced.

In an email to The Goat, Erasmus said that about $228,529 of erosion protection costs on the river have been paid for through various Board-approved funding avenues. This includes Covid Restart Grant Funds, Growing Community Funds, and reserves from the Emergency Management Service, they said.

“The approach to use internal funding for this project to date has been deliberate to mitigate the chance of being in a position where [external] grant funds are expected to pay for project costs and then upon tendering, that costs exceed the grant funding parameters,” said Erasmus.” 

“It will not be until the competitive bid process for construction services has been completed that there will be confidence that the project can be completely funded by the secured external grants.”

The closing date and time for the competitive bid process is April 8th at 9:00 a.m. Because the bid process is still ongoing, the District was unable to comment on the number of submissions that have been received so far.

If the District receives a qualified submission that falls within its budget through the bid process, it will aim to install riprap this summer, the representative told The Goat. Afterwards, continuous monitoring and further erosion protection – such as adding plants to revegetate the riverbank – will be necessary, said the District.