By Vanessa Broadbent
Although flooding season is over, the aftermath is anything but.
For members of the Southern Okanagan Sportsmen’s Association, the effects of the flooding that hit the Oliver area this spring are still a reality.
The association’s club property is located at the end of Sportsmen’s Bowl Road and like nearly 40 in the area, it was placed on evacuation order in late April.
But despite the evacuation order being lifted for most properties at the beginning of June, damage to the club’s property, which includes a trench at least 12 feet deep through their road, has left the property still under evacuation.
Normally, the existing culvert could hold the water, said association president Lindon Springer. But water levels were too high this year.
“The first while, there was just little dribbles across the road and then all of the sudden the channel across the road was about a foot deep … As more water got in it just kept going down.”
Luckily, all buildings on the property are safe but the entire road into the property has a trench parallel to it, now mostly filled in with gravel. Springer says there’s “a whole bunch of deep holes” at the back of the property as well.
He credits the damage to pumping on Seacrest Road above the property. But he also believes the pumping is the reason the damage wasn’t worse.
“If they hadn’t have pumped it we would have been really buggered because Seacrest Road would have really washed out.”
Currently, the Regional District Okanagan Similkaneen (RDOS) has barred public entry on club property and for the property to open again, repairs are required.
At this point, it’s still unclear when that will be. Springer says it could be within the month, but there are a lot of determining factors.
First, the association’s executive board needs to vote on how they’ll move forward. They could hire a contractor to repair the road with internal funds immediately, or they could wait for provincial disaster relief funding to come in. The latter Springer says could take over a year.
“At this stage of the game it’s a hurry up and wait thing … If we can convince enough of the directors, we should be able to get in here by the end of the month, but we’re red-tagged by the RDOS because of the banks. We’ve got to either fill them in or pave them.”
Should the disaster relief funding come through, Springer said some members want to install new, larger culverts and move the roadway away from the waterway.
But then they run the risk of having wasted funds, should the province decide to reroute the water on the property to avoid further flooding damage.
“If the government decides that the water’s not going to run here, then we put in a culvert with no water because all the water’s going to be over there,” Springer said.
Regardless, although preventing future damage from occurring is crucial, Springer said gaining access to the property is most important at this time.
However, he is worried about club members trying to access the property immediately, despite the evacuation order.
“If they start doing that then they’re going to lay a makeshift ladder or something across (the trench) and if they fall in and get hurt, whose insurance company is going to cover that?
“These banks are too unsteady; they’re very unstable … If you stepped on those banks close to the edge, you’re going in.”
The association is planning to meet within the next week and Springer hopes the vote will allow the club to reopen soon.
“We’ve been closed long enough.”