The cost to West Kelowna of the recent flooding was more than just the $4.1 million of damage done to public infrastructure.
The city says because of the response required by its staff—both on a local and regional level—a great deal of day-to-day city work had to be set aside. And, as result, the city now has to play catch up.
“The flood emergency consumed 27 per cent of weekdays (during the 99-day emergency), which would normally be used to complete council priorities, operational priorities or core work,” says chief administrative officer Jim Zaffino in a report going to council Tuesday.
“The emergency took precedence and resulted in some timeline changes made to both the council and operational priorities. In addition, the core work of the organization also fell behind.”
Much of the delays came from staffing the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre, which remains up and running, more than 107 days since it opened.
During the flood emergency—for which the region as a whole has submitted a $20 million bill to the province—and then the subsequent fires, numerous West Kelowna city staff from all departments, along with staff from Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland and the regional district, worked long hours at the EOC on a rotating basis.
Because of that, Zaffino says work has fallen behind in several key areas. They include:
• Preparation of the city’s budget and financial plan. Normally city staff work on it during the preceding year to have it ready for council’s first public perusal in November. That has now been pushed back to December, with first reading expected in January 2018.
• The West Kelowna Fire Department’s execution of its 2017 capital plan, training programs and strategic priorities is also now behind schedule. The flooding was the largest emergency the city has ever faced and the fire department was at the forefront of the response, said Zaffino.
• Development services staff were used heavily at the EOC during the flooding and then again during the recovery stage. As a result, several projects were pushed back and several bylaw reviews were delayed. A backlog has been created in other areas too and now needs to be addressed.
• For engineering and public works, because outside crews were so heavily used, numerous summer tasks were not completed, such as sports field maintenance and weed removal. Capital projects were delayed or deferred and gardening, street beautification, sign repairs and playground maintenance were put off.
“The flooding will also have an impact on the budget in two ways,” said Zaffino in his report.
“First, there will be projects that will need to be delayed to 2018 and this will give the illusion that we are under budget. Second, not all damage is recoverable from the province. Staff is in the process of compiling the costs that the city will have to absorb and a report will be forwarded to council with a budget amendment request.”