River restoration work to impact hike/bike trail

River restoration work to impact hike/bike trail

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Phase II of the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative will result in some impact to the hike and bike trail. At left are native singers celebrating the completion of Phase I in 2009. Photos contributed
Phase II of the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative will result in some impact to the hike and bike trail. At left are native singers celebrating the completion of Phase I in 2009. Photos contributed
Phase II of the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative will result in some impact to the hike and bike trail. At left are native singers celebrating the completion of Phase I in 2009.
Photos contributed

Phase II of the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative (ORRI) has the Town of Oliver looking at the potential impact it could have on the eastside hike and bike paving project.

At a recent council meeting, Director of Operations Shawn Goodsell raised a concern about potential damage to the planned paving due to heavy truck traffic from the ORRI.

The pathway from the Fairview Road bridge to vertical drop structure 13 is scheduled to be paved this month.

Phase II work on the river will involve trucks accessing the dike from Buchanan Road and exiting on McKinney Road, Goodsell said. This would mean “they would beat the hell out of the trail pavement with the extraordinary amount of equipment and heavy loads going through there.”

The Town was informed there will be flatbed trucks bringing in a pre-cast culvert weighing approximately 60 tons. Part of the restoration work involves drop structure 13 (cutting concrete out for better fish passage).

Goodsell initially said it may be in the Town’s best interest to delay the paving to prevent potential damage. However, he later told the Chronicle the river project shouldn’t have much impact on the trail.

“After consulting with our engineering consultant and the paving company, the river work should have minimal impact.”

Goodsell said the river project will be commencing August to mid-September, so there will be vehicle traffic on the dike that people need to be aware of.

“We are avoiding any impacts by making sure that loaded trucks and semi-trucks come onto the dike at Buchanan Road and leave, going south on the dike, exiting at McKinney Road. This way the weights won’t abuse the pavement as much.”

Members of council agreed that any damage should be repaired by the ORRI.

Councillor Jack Bennest expressed a concern about heavy traffic damaging the edge of the paved trail.

But Goodsell said there will be gravel shouldering to help protect the pavement edges.

As for the restoration project itself, the health of the Okanagan River has been severely impacted by channeling work that occurred in the 1950s. In an effort to regain the habitat features that were lost, the ORRI (spearheaded by the Okanagan Nation Alliance) reconnects the river to its historic floodplain, creates side channels, constructs gravel bars, and creates pools to enhance fish spawning and rearing habitats.

The ORRI plans to modify drop structure 13 by removing four concrete pier wedges of two middle bays. This will enhance 0.4 kilometres of upstream salmon spawning habitat and improve fish passage through the structure.

For safety reasons, the walking bridge over the drop structure is slated to close to the public from September 4-21. People are asked to use the downstream walking bridge to cross the river (a 1.3 km detour).

Phase II involves the creation of a side channel on the east side of the river (upstream of Phase I completed in 2009) to provide rearing habitat for rainbow trout/steelhead.

Other works include bank stabilization; a culvert crossing the dike, and a five-metre wide natural meandering east side channel.

Besides enhancing fish habitat, the initiative will help in the recovery of endangered or threatened species, such as the yellow-breasted chat. It will also remove and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

 

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