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BC United MLAs get firsthand look at Cache Creek flood damage

Nine members of the BC United caucus toured Cache Creek on June 20 before heading to Lytton
Members of the BC United Party caucus survey the damage at the Quartz Road culvert (just visible under the water) in Cache Creek on June 20. Nine MLAs heard about the damage caused by this year’s flooding and toured some of the affected sites before travelling to Lytton for a tour of that community. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Nine members of the BC United Party caucus, led by Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, visited Cache Creek on June 20, to see at first hand the damage caused by this year’s unprecedented flooding and learn about some of the challenges the village is facing as it works to repair the damage that was caused, and looks ahead to preventing such disasters in the future.

The meeting began in Cache Creek council chambers, where the MLAs heard from Councillor Sue Peters — the Emergency Operations Centre Logistics Chief — and CAO Damian Couture. Peters noted that normally a member of council would not be involved with the EOC, but explained that in a small town it often can’t be helped: “If elected officials weren’t involved in the EOC there might not be one.”

Couture and Peters used maps, photographs, and video footage to show how and why this year’s flooding occurred, explaining that while the Bonaparte River had record-high volumes, it was the water coming down Cache Creek that caused the majority of the flood damage. They also discussed the safety implications for the community when flooding severed highway access, pointing out that if a fire had occurred in the neighbourhood along Collins Road, neither Cache Creek nor Ashcroft firefighters could have got there; the closest departments able to respond would have been Savona, New Afton, or Kamloops.

Couture said that every year flooding occurs, the results are worse than during the last such event. The cost of this year’s response to the flooding has topped $1 million, he added; during the last bad flood year, 2020, the response cost was $750,000, and he made the case that spending that money on mitigation instead of response, to prevent future flooding events, would have been a better use of the funds.

Couture also noted that recovery costs are being estimated in the $3 to $5 million range. While 80 to 90 per cent of this amount will be covered by the province via Disaster Financial Assistance funding, coming up with the rest is difficult for a small community with a limited tax base. “Even paying 10 per cent of the DFA costs for claims is huge for a small community.

“And that only allows us to build back to what things were before the flooding. We need to build back better, otherwise this will keep happening.”

The cost of mitigation work in all the areas identified by the village is estimated at between $5 and $10 million. Couture said that the village has had studies done and plans drawn up, showing the work that is needed, and submitted them to Victoria: “But we’re not seeing things getting better.” He added that the mitigation costs only include work to village infrastructure; the Ministry of Transportation is responsible for the culvert under Highway 97 at the Dairy Queen, and there is no estimated cost to mitigate that site.

The MLAs went on a tour of the village to see some of the affected sites before heading to Lytton, where they were to meet with Mayor Denise O’Connor, TNRD Area “I” Director Tricia Thorpe, and recovery managers to tour downtown Lytton and discuss recovery plans and issues in that area.

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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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