I attended two meetings regarding the flooding, one concerning the devastation going on between Road 6 and Road 9 and beyond with about 30 people in attendance.
The other meeting to do with the Park Rill Creek disaster had in excess of 200 people in attendance. In both cases the rooms were filled with property owners, mostly older folks who have spent a lifetime working and paying taxes to the three levels of government. They were losing their houses, vehicles, crops and livelihoods. They were pained, upset, frustrated and disgusted by the lack of will to do something proactive.
In both cases government representatives of highways, lands and forests, RDOS, hydrologists, engineers and the environment sat at the head table with video aids.
Terry Schafer, our local RDOS representative, was present, but conspicuously absent was our MLA and MP. There was no happy photo-op to be had.
The channel in Penticton and in Oliver are the result of a vision put into action. Because of that vision both Oliver and Penticton have benefited through the opening up of superb ALR farming land, living space and other developments.
What was blatantly obvious at these meetings was that there was zero vision regarding our watershed and creeks. There were no proactive plans nor coordination. In the worst cases landowners demonstrated that the bureaucracy was obstructive and dismissive, much of which has led to the build-up of debris fields with streams changing course, then being rerouted by highways causing downstream havoc.
The head of the RDOS office, when offered a resolution for the Road 6 problem by Ray Hewitt, where three silty creeks at torrential levels are flooding the complete area, cynically pointed out that they only funded emergency situations five days at a time and nothing would be done longer term on Road 9 other than install temporary pumps, meaning the problem would get worse in the future but they do not plan for the future.
Everybody but the bureaucrats understood that flood control has to start at the Okanagan River, culverts and access has to be in sync with the fact that water runs downhill. In the case of Road 6 the present culvert is wrongly placed.
When the river rises it backs up the culvert, ditch and into the fields preventing the spring creeks from running off properly. The Road 6 ditch has not been maintained for the 20 years that I have lived here. The runoff for Road 6 and Road 9 must be below the weir allowing for best drainage into the Okanagan River. The same problem was pointed out in the Park Rill Creek area.
One lady with a vision for water management for the Twin and Green Lakes area pointed out how with proper planning uphill lakes could be used to hold spring runoff then let loose as required during the dry summer months. That is planning for the future. She was dismissed with no comment other than “money was only available for five days’ emergencies.”
It was obvious the head table people need to come up with something better than a reactive five-day-emergency response. It was obvious that beaver stream management and human habitation don’t mix. Beaver in the boreal and in uninhabited forests go well.
The question is can the governments and bureaucrats come up with plans to survey, map, clean out and direct our streams so the environment and human inhabitants can have a stress-free annual spring runoff. There is an example: look at the excellent job done at the Testalinda Creek; that took a disaster before something was done. Do we want more disasters?
James T Moore, Oliver