The Okanagan Basin Water Board's floodplain map shows the north of Okanagan Lake in Vernon. (Okanagan Flood Story)

Flood preparedness urged in Vernon

‘We never know when an emergency may take place, so now is the time to prepare ourselves to face the unknown,’ mayor

As the weather continues to warm and area creeks and streams rise, those living on the shores are urged to be ready for potential flooding.

Private property owners are responsible for protecting their property from flood and flood-related risks. If property owners or the general public have a request regarding tree or vegetation maintenance, bank stabilization or the removal of debris in or about a stream, the city will direct the inquiries to the appropriate agency for approval.

To assist, some policies have been streamlined in Vernon with a streamside maintenance policy.

“Each year, the city receives inquiries from residents about who owns creek channels and who is responsible for maintenance or bank stabilization on properties adjacent to creeks or streams,” said Mayor Victor Cumming.

“The intention of this updated policy is to clarify the roles and responsibilities of private property owners, the local government, and the provincial government, to help our citizens know where to find the information they need if they have questions or concerns.”

READ MORE: Change of creek course closes popular Vernon trail

In British Columbia, the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) regulates and applies to any work in and about a stream. The Riparian Areas Protection Regulation protects the many and varied features, functions and conditions that are vital for maintaining stream health and productivity. Riparian areas link water to land. These lands border streams, lakes and wetlands. Streams are Crown land and are not the property of the city. Therefore, the city cannot approve work to take place in or about a stream.

Homeowners are responsible for protecting their property from flood and flood-related risks. If property owners or the general public have a request regarding tree or vegetation maintenance, bank stabilization or the removal of debris in or about a stream, the city will direct the inquiries to the appropriate agency for approval.

“Private property owners may be required to engage a qualified professional and obtain permits from the province to address their concerns,” Cumming said. “The same conditions apply to the city.”

Sand and sandbags are available for public use at Vernon’s operations building, 1900 48th Ave. Residents are reminded to bring their own shovel to fill sandbags and are asked to follow all COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We never know when an emergency may take place, so now is the time to prepare ourselves to face the unknown,” Cumming said. “The more emergency preparedness work we do today, the better we’ll be able to adapt to changing conditions later as a stronger and more resilient community.”

READ MORE: Major investor picks up Penticton, Vernon rental housing


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