There was no flood of support from Salmon Arm council for a flood-risk assessment study that could have put a hold on any further development in the Salmon Arm Delta.
At their Monday meeting, council formally received a recommendation from the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee, requesting that a “Quantitative Flood Risk Assessment be carried out on the delta as soon as is practical, and prior to any further development work being permitted.”
According to Coun. Ivan Idzan, council’s representative on the committee, the request was put forward by Frank Bugala, who represents the group WA:TER (Wetlands Alliance: The Ecological Response) on the committee.
Bugala had made the committee’s request known to council in advance at the July 11 public hearings for SmartCentres development permits relating to the shopping centre developers’ property in the delta.
“Ideally, such a study would be a co-operative effort among stakeholders in the area including private landowners, First Nations that have land there, the city and potentially upper levels of government,” said Idzan, referring to an accompanying proposal to do the study by BGC Engineering Inc.
“That item is approximately $70,000 to do a proper quantitative flood risk assessment of the Salmon River Delta…, “ said Idzan. “It comes from one of the experts that the province is consulting. It may be a reasonable number to at least base it around.”
It was noted by city administrator Carl Bannister that there is already $20,000 in reserve for another request by WA:TER for a sensitive habitat inventory and mapping study.
Idzan said he would support any amendments from council, and suggested that it at least be referred to the 2012 budget process. Council agreed to this, but not the study.
“I don’t know if that means future applications, but we’ve already dealt with a significant application and the way this is worded, it makes it sound like that would stop it, so I’m not going to support it,” said Coun. Kevin Flynn. “And I did notice six out of how many voted against it in its amended format.”
Nine out of the 15 committee members present voted in favour of the recommendation – Idzan being among those opposed. As with Flynn, the words “further development” was also a sticking point for the committee, and created significant debate according to Idzan.
Coun. Alan Harrison said he felt he’d heard and respected Bugala’s opinion, but that he did not support the motion.
Mayor Marty Bootsma noted that by referring the flood-risk assessment study request to the budget process, it would be something the next council will have to deal with.
“For my own part, I would just leave it alone,” said Bootsma.
Prior to the council meeting, Bugala explained the recommendations to council represent the best information available, “sifted down with all the different groups (represented on the committee) with different attitudes, approaches and concerns.”
Bugala says the recommendations, if accepted by council, would put the horse before the cart, providing what experts say needs to occur on the delta prior to development.
“So, whether or not council will do that is again political,” said Bugala.