Kelowna, West Kelowna pre­pare flood de­fences

Early ef­forts fo­cus­ing on creeks in Kelowna, Gel­latly Bay on West­side

The Daily Courier - - OKANAGAN - By AN­DREA PEA­COCK

If you’re liv­ing along a creek and you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing be­fore, you should take some prepara­tory mea­sures for that.

Alan New­combe

City crews in Kelowna and West Kelowna are pre­par­ing for spring flood­ing by re­mov­ing de­bris from lo­cal creeks, build­ing up creek banks, lin­ing up sand­bags and in­stalling tem­po­rary dams.

“We’re mak­ing prepa­ra­tions for the snow­pack to come down,” said Alan New­combe, di­vi­sional di­rec­tor of infrastructure with the City of Kelowna.

Crews have been dredg­ing Mill Creek and Belle­vue Creek to in­crease the flow of the creeks, said New­combe.

“Over time, the veg­e­ta­tion has got so dense along Mill Creek that it’s con­strict­ing the flow in a lot of ar­eas, caus­ing the wa­ter to come out of the chan­nel and flood prop­er­ties,” he said. “By re­mov­ing the veg­e­ta­tion, we should see an in­crease in the ve­loc­ity and some of the sed­i­ment on the bot­tom con­tinue to move down stream.”

Crews have also been re­mov­ing some of the sed­i­ment from the creeks, said New­combe.

BC Wild­fire crews will be ar­riv­ing in Kelowna this week to set up sand­bags and blad­der dams along ar­eas of Mill Creek that have flooded in the past.

Wild­fire crews will also be in West Kelowna, stack­ing sand­bags and set­ting up a tiger dam along a stretch of Gel­latly Road.

The Gel­latly Bay neigh­bour­hood is cur­rently the main fo­cus for the City of West Kelowna, be­cause of the flood­ing it ex­pe­ri­enced last year, said Jason Brol­und, West Kelowna’s fire chief.

“Our hope is to pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing this year, or at least con­trol it in a man­ner where the road isn’t as im­pacted and the res­i­dents aren’t at risk,” he said.

Crews in Kelowna will also be build­ing up paths next to lo­cal creeks to pre­vent over­flow of wa­ter.

“In­stead of just putting sand­bags next to the creek chan­nels, in ar­eas where we have ex­ist­ing path­ways or pos­si­bly a gravel road be­side a creek ac­cess road, we’ll build that up to ac­tu­ally make a more per­ma­nent struc­ture,” said New­combe, adding this is a new strat­egy that was not done last year.

So far, there have been no com­plaints of flood­ing in Kelowna, said New­combe.

“The flows in the creeks are still very low,” he said. “We re­ally won’t see much in Mill Creek, Mis­sion or Belle­vue creeks for a cou­ple of weeks yet un­til more snow melts.”

Rain is not cur­rently a ma­jor con­cern for flood­ing, said New­combe.

“We might get some lo­cal­ized flood­ing or over­land flow, but the big­ger con­cern longer term is re­ally the creeks, which are af­fected by the snowmelt,” he said. “A rain­storm within the city isn’t go­ing to have an im­pact on the lo­cal creeks to that kind of ex­tent.”

Home­own­ers should be start­ing to think about what steps they need to take to pro­tect their homes from flood­ing, said New­combe.

“We’ll be com­ing out with some in­for­ma­tion shortly on where sand and sand­bags will be avail­able,” he said.

Cur­rently, the main con­cern is for peo­ple liv­ing next to creeks, not lake­front prop­er­ties, said New­combe.

“If you’re liv­ing along a creek and you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing be­fore, you should take some prepara­tory mea­sures for that, but if you’re on the lake, at this point, I don’t think there’s any need to be con­cerned,” he said. “Whether the in­crease in the el­e­va­tion of the lake is even go­ing to be a con­cern for a lake­front prop­erty owner is still way too early to tell.”

Sand and sand­bags are cur­rently avail­able for res­i­dents on the West­side at Kins­men Works Yard, the West Kelowna Yacht Club, 4081 Hitch­ner Rd., across the street from the Glen­rosa Fire Sta­tion and across the street from the Rose Val­ley Fire Sta­tion.

“We’re in­creas­ing our level of pre­pared­ness and en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to think the same way,” said Brol­und.

Daily Courier file photo

BC Wild­fire Ser­vice em­ploy­ees help set up aqua dams at Pritchard Park in West Kelowna as part of flood-pro­tec­tion mea­sures around the Cen­tral Okana­gan last spring. City crews in Kelowna and West Kelowna are pre­par­ing for flood­ing again this spring.

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