The District of Squamish is dividing provincial funding meant for one large flood protection project into five initiatives.
The municipality has approximately $1.8 million set aside for flood protection. The cash, which comes with a funding agreement that expires in February 2013, was initially earmarked to pay for the removal of approximately 120,000 cubic metres of sediment built up at the confluence of Mamquam and Squamish rivers. The aim of that project is to lower the river levels, reducing the stress on adjacent dikes during periods of high run-off.
But after further discussions with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the creation of the Squamish Valley River Management Committee, the district has opted for five projects throughout Squamish Valley, rather than the single giant undertaking.
Studies indicated that the flood protection benefit of removing the gravel and other sediment amounted to only an approximate two-centimetre gain on the dikes, said Greig Garland, capital project engineer.
“If you raise the dike a metre, it’s a no brainer,” Garland said.
Coun. Patricia Heintzman said she thought that was the answer the DFO wanted from the start.
With the new plan in place, district staff have tight windows in which to complete the work, Garland said. The work has to be conducted during times when salmon aren’t migrating up the river systems.
“This effort of increasing our flood project overall isn’t going to happen in a year,” he said.
The looming funding agreement deadline puts the district in an awkward position with the province, Garland said.
“If you don’t get your projects completed by the deadline, you can’t apply for the funds,” he told The Chief.
Without that money, the municipality would be faced with footing the bill. District staff have finished two of the five projects — sediment removal at the confluence of both Cheekye and Cheakamus rivers and the Mamquam and Squamish rivers. That leaves three more projects to go — raising the dike along Judd Slough and Eagle Run in Brackendale and adjacent to North Yards.
District staff have put two more projects out to tender, Garland said.
“We’re looking for confirmation that the province will continue to support the project,” he said.