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New Cache Creek floodplain management bylaw to reduce flood risk

Bylaw will regulate new construction in areas designated as floodplain within the village

In-person and virtual meetings on April 3 and April 4 gave Cache Creek residents an opportunity to learn more about the village’s proposed Floodplain Management Bylaw and what it will mean.

Representatives from TRUE Consulting were on hand to discuss the proposed bylaw, which will be developed alongside relevant amendments to the village’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and Zoning Bylaw. The OCP outlines a municipality’s long-term vision for the community, including how land is used and how the community develops and grows, while the Zoning Bylaw regulates how land, buildings, and other structures may be used.

Both documents will be updated to align with the proposed Floodplain Management Bylaw, which will regulate development within a specific area of that is known to be affected by flooding. The goal is to minimize the risk of flood damage, and to safeguard properties and human lives within the designated area.

While there have been instances of severe flooding in Cache Creek in the past — notably in 1948 and 1979 — the number and severity of flooding incidents have sharply increased in recent years, with major flood events occurring in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2020.

The unprecedented flooding in May 2023 prompted the declaration of a state of local emergency, closed highways for several days, and caused millions of dollars in damage to public and private property, roads, and village infrastructure.

The new bylaw will establish how high off the ground habitable areas should be built (flood construction level), and how far a new building or structure should be set back from a watercourse (floodplain setback), to ensure that new construction remains above flood levels and away from watercourses.

It will also “leave room for the river” by preventing future development from occurring in environmentally sensitive and erosion-prone areas, and will apply to all persons who construct or change a building, manufactured home, or other structure on lands designated as floodplain within the boundaries of the Village of Cache Creek.

The presenters were at pains to reassure residents that existing buildings will be considered “non-conforming” (that is, grandfathered) and will be allowed to remain in place, although they cannot be increased in size.

However, in some cases the municipality could insist that a covenant be placed on the title of a property, which would state that the village is not responsible for any damage that could be caused by flooding.

At the in-person session on April 3, Jonathan Welke — senior water resources engineer with TRUE Consulting — noted that flooding is a complex issue, and that while protection is key, there are high emotions and stakes surrounding flooding.

He also pointed out that because of the province’s mountainous terrain, people have historically settled in “hazardous” areas near watercourses, so “we’re living with past historical decisions,” and that protection such as dykes only works to a certain degree. This was seen in Princeton, Merritt, and the Fraser Valley after flooding during the November 2021 atmospheric river caused many dykes in those places to fail.

“The Floodplain Management Bylaw is a tool the community can use to regulate what can be in the floodplain, and where,” Welke explained. “And the floodplain extends far beyond the watercourse.” He added that the bylaw is very forward-looking, not only by regulating new construction but also by regulating future changes to existing buildings.

“As buildings age and need renovations it will trigger changes, and in time will change the community. It’s for the long term.”

The new bylaw will be developed over the next four to six months, and village staff, along with TRUE Consulting, will be connecting with residents, businesses, and local First Nations to gather input and ensure that the bylaw addresses community needs and concerns. For more information, contact TRUE Consulting at or call (250) 320-8796.

You can also go to the Village of Cache Creek Flood Hub page at, which gives more information about the proposed Floodplain Management Bylaw and other flooding-related matters.

Barbara Roden

About the Author: Barbara Roden

I joined Black Press in 2012 working the Circulation desk of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal and edited the paper during the summers until February 2016.
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