EDITORIAL: Flood officials need to be more proactive

EDITORIAL: Flood officials need to be more proactive

Tom Kamann (right) wasn't overly impressed with the information he received at last Wednesday night's public meeting regarding flooding. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

You just knew tensions were going to run high at last week’s flood information meeting.

Even before the panel of professionals finished having their say (prior to question period), several people spoke out in frustration. This was understandable but unfortunate.

When your property is flooding or you’ve been evacuated from your home, it’s hard to stay silent or follow decorum.

The fact is some residents have tried to convince government officials for the past several years to be proactive in flood prevention. But they were talking to deaf ears. Like Donna Cooke said in Willowbrook, the government isn’t very good at acting on your ideas or concerns.

Same story at Swiller’s Pond north of Oliver. Stacey Eckenswiller started calling the government five years ago about the flood and beaver dam problem. She was reportedly “running in circles” trying to get help from various ministries but nobody would come down to talk to her. Now, however, the regional district has been calling her almost every day about the situation.

“Why should I help you now? You never helped me,” she said at the meeting.

The government has to change its way of thinking and be more proactive, starting by truly listening to the people who have lived here for decades.

It was interesting to hear regional district administrator Bill Newell say that if people wanted the district’s emergency response program to be more proactive, they would have to raise taxes. Don’t we pay enough now?

It’s also interesting that after residents have been calling (for years) for proper drainage on Road 6-9, the government is finally looking at designs to install new culverts to channel the water to the river. Why didn’t they do that last year after the floods? Why didn’t they install properly sized culverts in Willowbrook last year after the flooding?

Some government officials seem to forget that if it wasn’t for the taxpayer, they wouldn’t have a salary.

But let’s stop harping on government and offer kudos for the work it has been doing in Sportsmen’s Bowl and Park Rill. Crews have done an admirable job protecting Highway 97 from washing out. Same goes for Secrest Hill Road, which one Ministry of Transportation official likened it to another “Testalinda” mudslide if it ever let go. That’s a scary thought that you don’t want to dwell on. But being the realist that Area C director Terry Schafer is – it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Whatever the case, Mother Nature owes us big time. She owes us a decent summer with little fire activity and smoke. If only she would be so kind.

If government learns only one lesson from all of this, it’s listen to the people because they’ve lived here for a long time and know the score.