Vancouver, BC (May 27, 2016) – As part of the public-safety funding announced in the 2016 provincial budget, the Province is committing $1.47 million in funding toward a flood-mitigation project near Fairmont Hot Springs that will protect the important economic area from flood damage.
The project builds on earlier work done by the Regional District of East Kootenay to widen the Fairmont Creek channel following significant debris flow events in 2012 and 2013 triggered by high water levels that impacted residences and businesses. The 2012 event forced the closure of the highway and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and cut off access to a RV campground.
In phases two and three, now being funded by the Province, the capacity of Fairmont Creek will be expanded upstream, debris barriers will be installed, and the size of the culvert on the campground road will be increased. As well, a rainfall gauge and early-warning system will be installed at the 1,500-metre level of the Fairmont Creek watershed.
These actions will help to capture material upstream and reduce flooding at lower levels, including areas of the Mountainside Golf Course, and improve the capacity of the creek and culverts to prevent flooding.
As a result, the project will help protect public safety, minimize damage to public and private infrastructure, and protect the local tourism economy from business losses caused by flooding. The value of assets being protected by the project is estimated at $236 million.
In the 2016 budget, the B.C. government announced $65 million in initiatives to help keep communities safe, including $16 million for public safety preparedness initiatives and $49 million for community-hazard mitigation projects, such as upgrades to dikes and flood protection.
Leading up to 2016 budget, B.C. has invested significantly in flood mitigation and prevention. Since 2008, the Province has invested in 156 projects worth a total of $145 million. ($62 million has been provided provincially, $46 million federally, and $37 million in funding from the local authorities.)
East Kootenay flood mitigation funding. The flood mitigation planned for the Fairmont Creek area will help protect public safety, minimize damage to public and private infrastructure, and protect the local tourism economy from business losses caused by flooding. (Government of British Columbia)
- The Fairmont Creek watershed is on the eastern slopes of the Columbia River valley, approximately 100 kilometres north of Cranbrook.
- There are approximately 350 full-time residents of the unincorporated community of Fairmont Hot Springs. The summer population is up to five times that number.
- One of the province’s major tourism lodges, the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (FHSR), is in the area.
- In both 2012 and 2013, debris flow in the area caused considerable damage with the earlier one forcing temporary closures of the highway, FHSR and the area campground. The Mountainside Golf Course was also affected.
- The first phase of the project, which included widening of the Fairmont Creek channel from Marble Canyon to a pond/debris trap at the Mountainside Golf course and the construction of debris containment berms on both sides of the creek, was completed in spring 2016, and the $467,330 project was one-third funded by Emergency Management BC.
- The remaining two-thirds of Phase One were funded by community donations, Community Works funding, Regional District of East Kootenay taxation and the federal government through the Building Canada Fund.
“Our government values the public safety of all British Columbians. Anything we can do to identify and diminish risk is a step in the right direction. That’s why our government is investing in flood mitigation projects across the province. We are happy to work collaboratively with communities to help limit the risk our citizens could be exposed to in the unfortunate event a disaster strikes.”
– Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness
“This is a great example of the province and the regional district working collaboratively to ensure that citizens, residences, the tourism economy and critical transportation links in the East Kootenay are protected from flooding. Anyone who remembers the 2012 debris flow can attest to the damage that Mother Nature can exact in mere minutes. While that was a rare event, it brought heightened awareness to the need to take action for the future.”
– Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and MLA for East Kootenay
“Securing funding for the final two phases of the Fairmont Creek Debris Mitigation Project will enhance public safety by greatly reducing the impact of future flood and debris flow events, which will benefit the entire community. We are grateful to the Province for supporting this project and look forward to completing the engineering this year, with the bulk of the construction to be completed in 2017.”
Rob Gay,- Chair of the Regional District of East Kootenay board
For more information, visit the B.C. government’s Flood Protection and Planning website.
SOURCE: Flood Protection and Planning, Government of British Columbia