Flooding at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park was just some of the damage to city-owned property experienced during the recent historic high water levels in Okanagan Lake .—Image credit:: Warren Henderson/Capital News

Big bill for Central Okanagan flooding response

Emergency officials say the province will be asked for $20 million to cover the cost of response.

The $20 million bill the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre is sending to the province to cover local costs of responding to the spring and early summer flooding will not cover damage to public infrastructure and private property.

Applications for financial assistance to help pay for those areas of flood damage will have to be made to the province’s disaster financial assistance program, say EOC officials.

And the clock is ticking as Emergency Management B.C. has set Oct. 27 as the deadline for applications.

The bills for repair of public property and infrastructure in Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna, Peachland, the Central Okanagan Regional District and Westbank First Nations lands is expected to total millions of dollars in each area.

Already, West Kelowna has pegged the cost of damage to public property there as a result of the flooding at $4.1 million. Kelowna and Lake Country officials are still adding up the costs in their respective cities.

Kelowna’s Ian Wilson, the acting operations chief at the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre, said damage to public property in Kelowna will carry a cost for the city, but not one it will have to bear alone.

He said under the disaster financial assistance program, an estimated 80 per cent of the repair costs could be covered by the province.

Currently, contracted crews are collecting debris from Okanagan Lake following the completion of a region-wide sweep of neighbourhoods gathering up used sandbags and flood prevention equipment.

“There’s a huge volume of debris out there,” said Wilson, adding he expects the crews will be collecting what has washed up on the shores of Okanagan Lake for another two to three weeks.

In Lake Country, spokeswoman Karen Miller said damage to public property there is also being tallied up, including the cost of the loss of a few district-owned piers.

The flooding started in early May and according to Emergency Management B.C., Okanagan Lake only officially returned to “normal” levels at the end of July.