The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) continues to deal with the aftermath of the Elk River flooding last summer and is currently focusing on a dirt berm project in the Cokato Road area.
“Staff are working with a private landowner in the Hill Road area to get approvals to construct a dirt berm on their property,” explains RDEK Area A Director Mike Sosnowski. “The berm will be set back from the river and will provide some protection in the event we experience high water again.” If approved by the landowner, work could be underway within the next few weeks.
The RDEK has allocated funding for the project from Area A’s portion of the Elk Valley Mine Tax Sharing Funds. “I’m happy that we are able to get this project done and provide some protection along that bank for those residents, but it’s another example where we’d like to be able to do more and can’t due to the fact that we have no ability to raise money for projects like these,” says Sosnowski. “What really needs to happen in the long-term is some diking built to provincial specifications and bank protection, but the way things currently stand, there’s no way to make that happen. The berm is the next best option.”
Sosnowski says since last summer, situations like the one on Cokato Road and across the entire Elk Valley have highlighted the need to find a way to fund flood related projects and be in a position to have one-third of the funding ready when federal/provincial infrastructure programs, which cover two-thirds of project costs, are announced. “Under the Local Government Act, regional districts are very restricted in how they can raise and spend money. The only solution we have is to create a new service that would be specifically aimed at flood mitigation and control.”
The RDEK Board has now directed staff to begin the process of establishing an Area A Flood Control Service. “Staff will put together information on what the proposed service could look like and we will take it out to the residents and property owners to see what they think about it,” says Sosnowski. “Once we have a clear picture of what the proposed service involves, there will be an elector assent process to determine if the new service will happen. We are still in the very early stages and there will be extensive information coming out to the community first.”
“We know the need. We have found a potential funding solution. I’m excited to bring that out to the community over the next few weeks,” adds Sosnowski.