Directors on the Cariboo Regional District Board will be pushing for a meeting with the new B.C. government on how to address anticipated flooding and landslides across the region next spring.
Al Richmond, who represents Lac La Hache-108 Mile Ranch, said record-high lake levels are raising concerns for residents from Lac La Hache to Green Lake, as there is nowhere for the water to go.
“It’s not if, it’s when,” Richmond said during discussions at the CRD Board meeting Friday. “What are the plans for next year because I know it’s going to happen. We need to have them all in the room. We’ve got to do something with the high levels somehow, whether it’s Bridge Lake, Horse Lake, Canim Lake or Green Lake. People are really concerned about what’s going to happen next year.”
The issue arose following a status report from Wylie Bystedt, recovery manager for flood 2020, and Stephanie Masun, Community Liaison Program Coordinator, who said the region was “hammered” by a series of events this spring, including two major rain events, which affected south and central Cariboo roads and culverts and made it difficult for recovery operations across the region.
In the 100 Mile area alone this spring, there were 87 flooding and freshet events this spring with another 25 in both Bridge Lake and Clinton. More than 100 roads were affected.
CRD Chair Margo Wagner noted the ground is already saturated and “every single area is going to be under flood watch this spring.” She said a director nearly fell into a creek to photograph the high waters this spring and she would like to see the province provide more resources to the Water Stewardship Branch rather than downloading the job of keeping an eye on the local situation to area directors.
She noted there will be two new ministers – for Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, as well as Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – who will need to be brought up to speed as soon as possible.
“Things are changing rapidly and we have to put pressure on the government to fulfill the expectations we have on them,” Wagner said.
Richmond, who also took photos of Bridge Creek, said the Water Stewardship Branch is doing their jobs but they’re challenged and they have to start lobbying to get them more resources.
Steve Forseth, Director for Commodore Heights – McLeese Lake, agreed it was important to “get folks to the table asap.”
CRD CAO John McLean said the regional district needs to work on its communications and start building the teams that are going to be working on the situation in the spring. He noted staff has a meeting with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in November.
“I do have serious concerns about next spring,” he said. “We all do. Look outside.”