Frustration mounts in Spallumcheen over water download

The Township of Spallumcheen is trying to stop the flow of provincial downloading of a local water district.

The Township of Spallumcheen is trying to stop the flow of provincial downloading of a local water district.

The township has been informed by the ministry of forests, lands and natural resources operations in Victoria that it will be responsible for bringing the Fortune Creek Drainage and Diking District (FCDDD) up to the code of the Drainage, Ditch and Dike Act, and that assets of the FCDDD are to be transferred into the name of the Township of Spallumcheen by the end of 2012.

“The province is downloading this, they’re saying it’s our responsibility to bring it up to code, here’s the code, here’s the act, now go and do it,” stated Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown at Monday’s regular council meeting.

In a letter to Steve Thomson, forests minister, the township stated that the consequences of transferring the liabilities, assets and powers of a diking district would have significant financial impact for Spallumcheen.

Under the Dike Maintenance Act, the inspector of dikes can make a diking authority repair or remove a dike, inspect records in connection with the construction and maintenance of dikes and carry out audits. Diking authorities may not build a new dike without authorization from the inspector.

Failure to follow an inspector’s order is an offence subject to a fine of not more than $200,000, and if it’s a continuing offence, a fine of $200,000 per day for each day the offence is continued.

“There are 45 properties on the Fortune Creek Diking District with no access to them and they have no equipment, they can’t do it,” said Brown of bringing the diking district up to code, which would also have to involve the Ministry of Fisheries as riparian areas would be affected.

The FCDDD recently was denied a flood protection grant of $175,000.

Brown and members of council plan to meet with Shuswap MLA George Abbott March 2 to discuss the matter.

“I’m sure they (province) don’t understand what our diking is,” said Brown. “It runs for miles and hits all of these properties. At the coast, they’re all contained.

“I’m sure they don’t realize the Fortune Creek Diking Board is a bunch of owners that have looked after their properties with sandbags and cleaned it and done it to the best of their ability.”

Part of the township’s frustration is the lack of communication from the province.

“When they first said this would happen three years ago, they were going to put a team together and indicated they’d send somebody out here to tell us what we need to do, what it’s going to cost, that there would be grant money and we’ll work together,” said Brown. “We applied for the grant, they turned it down and no assessment has been done.”