Province not swayed by CSRD appeal

It’s a hope-for-the-best situation in terms of provincial response to flood management.

This was Columbia Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin’s estimation when the board of directors acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Ministry of Justice.

Martin, who is also president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), was not impressed with the province’s response to a CSRD resolution put forward by the board and endorsed by the UBCM membership in 2013.

“They didn’t answer anything and it’s a concern,” said Martin, noting that while larger communities have and maintain infrastructure, they also have a solid tax base, something rural communities do not have.

“We have creeks and rivers all over the place that meander quite nicely 360 days of the year,” she said of the potential for flooding. “We don’t have engineering departments, we are not like a municipality.”

In their resolution, CSRD had asked the province to “take immediate and direct responsibility for flood management including but not limited to: identification of flood-related hazards; remediation of stream channels so as to mitigate future flooding; monitoring streamflows and levels in waterways posing a risk to life, safety or property; responding to sudden cessation of stream flows or reports of debris dams; executing tactical evacuations when warranted and communicating with emergency operations centres.

But the province is not about to let municipalities off the hook.

In its written response, the Ministry of Justice maintains that flood protection is a shared responsibility with success dependent on support from all levels of government.

The ministry  points out that since 2008, federal and provincial governments have committed nearly $127 million to 138 flood mitigation projects across B.C.

“The province supports local authorities in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergency incidents and events,” reads the response. “The province looks to local authorities to identify local risks and to develop and implement plans to lessen these risks.”

Also noted is the role of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to provide monitoring of stream flows and water courses for potential threats and hazards, with information being used by all provincial agencies to provide ongoing support to local governments.

Martin says this has made her somewhat hopeful.

“Maybe this will cause the province to pause and have a real serious look at these issues.”


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