Council surprised by flood study cost

Risk assessment: City hall learns the full project will amount to more than $600,000.

Salmon Arm council sustained a little ‘sticker shock’ after viewing the potential costs of a flood hazard risk assessment.

Where and when might Salmon Arm flood, how best can the hazards be mitigated and what will the costs be are some of the questions city council would like answered.

The city contracted Urban Systems Ltd. to come up with terms of reference for the project. The company was not asked whether the city should undertake the work, but what content the city could use if it decides to proceed.

In its 2013 strategic plan, the city deemed a flood hazard risk assessment a medium priority – to be tackled in 2018 or later.

Urban Systems estimates the total cost for the assessment at $610,000. That breaks down into $300,000 for Phase 1, the floodplain mapping; $100,000 for Phase 2, risk assessment; $60,000 for Phase 3, near-term response; $30,000 for Phase 4, long-term adaptation; $90,000 for stakeholder response; and $30,000 for documentation and project management.

The work is estimated to take 18 months.

“The cost is overwhelming, much more than I expected. We’re going to have to figure out how to deal with that,” remarked Coun. Kevin Flynn.

Prior to the presentation by Therese Zulinick and Jeffrey Rice, Coun. Tim Lavery asked council to alter procedure and allow questions from the audience following the presentation. Council agreed.

Rice told council the city’s current flood plain mapping is about 25 years old. He said the understanding of climate change is much better now than then.

Regarding how urgent the need is, Zulinick said the city’s strategic plan and the “professional reliance model” is “probably serving  you well at this time.” She was referring to the city’s development permits, whereby proponents must hire a  qualified environmental professional for developments in the flood plain.

The presenters said the terms of reference they’ve compiled refer only to public infrastructure, not private.

Lavery suggested the assessment should cover private as well. He also said the list of key stakeholders should include First Nations. Zulinick said First Nations were listed separately as a special group, “not trying to make them look less important, actually the opposite.”

Resident Calvin Van Buskirk urged council to consider the opportunity, before the new highway is constructed at the Salmon River, to have the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure do what’s called a Vulnerability Assessment of Infrastructure to Climate Change, including the consideration of flood risk to the city caused by the bridge and/or highway embankment. That information could be shared with the city.


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