Work to repair damage in Kelowna from last spring flooding could run into 2019 say city officials.—Image: Warren Henderson/Capital News

Kelowna flood repair work far from over

City says the repair work could run into next year

Work to repair damage from last year’s flooding will extend all the way into 2019, say Kelowna city officials.

According to a city staff report going to council Monday, several of the original repair projects identified are still awaiting initiation and it is expected all the work will not be completed for at least another year.

Last November, the city identified 52 locations where repairs were required as a result of last springs floods, at a total cost of approximately $10.7 million. Work was initiated and, to date, more than $3 million worth of repairs have been completed.

One project of note was on Upper Vernon Creek. The creek construction work included the removal of approximately 2,600 tonnes of concrete, installation of more than 8,000-square-metres of channel bed liner, importing of 12,000 tonnes of rock rip-rap with boulders up to 5 feet in diameter and placement of 9,500 tonnes of native soils.

With current snowpack conditions in the Central Okanagan above normal for this time of year and cool spring conditions adding more, lower elevation snow has remained.

“We are closely monitoring all the flood factors with provincial departments, including snowpack, temperature and weather events,” says the staff report. “Advanced planning work includes extensive mapping to identify areas most prone to flooding in the event of higher than normal stream flows.”

As a precaution, city staff is proposing to proactively institute flood prevention measures in specific areas along Mill Creek. Those measures include employing sandbags, bladder dams, Hesco bins or similar alternatives. Sandbags and sand will also be provided for private properties that have been identified at an increased risk due to potential high stream flows. Locations will be determined and publicized when available.

“At this point in time, it has not been determined if Emergency Management British Columbia will be providing funding for these measures to be employed in response to the high-flow risk. Therefore, funding is requested to initiate these projects in advance of the EMBC approval.”

Last spring’s freshet—the snowpack melt that fills creeks and streams—brought extreme flooding in early May and subsequent record high levels of Okanagan Lake. Creek channel capacity restoration projects continue to be the priority right now in anticipation of this spring’s freshet, says the city.

Projects include:

• Gravel removal and erosion mitigation along Bellevue Creek

• Channel remediation on Upper Vernon Creek

• Vegetation removal along and within Mill Creek

• Reinstatement of capacity along Mill Creek

On a separate but related note, the localized basement flooding some city property owners are experiencing is the result of high groundwater or isolated low-level snow melting.

The city says private property owners are responsible for protecting their properties from possible high ground water damage. And it is advising anyone who has historically experienced wet basements or seepage to prepare accordingly.

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