Water transfer stalled

Province has asked for another five-year extension of repeal of Drainage, Ditch and Dike Act, which raises flood concerns in Spallumcheen

The Township of Spallumcheen has granted a wish of the province.

The ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations requested a five-year extension of a repeal date of the Drainage, Ditch and Dike Act.

In 2003, the DDDA was amended to allow for the five diking districts – including Spallumcheen’s Fortune Creek Drainage and Diking District (FCDDD) – to be transferred to their respective local governments, a move the township has been fighting against.

Provision was made for the statute’s repeal by Dec. 31, 2010, then that was extended five years.

The repeal is currently slated to end Dec. 31, 2015. The ministry has asked for another five-year extension to 2020.

The province made a vow to work with affected local governments on addressing issues and costs brought about by the transfers. Dike assessment studies have shown the total estimated costs to address dike upgrades and transfer for the five DDs, including the FCDDD, to be “in the tens of millions of dollars.”

“In order to provide additional time to secure funding, undertake dike upgrades and facilitate orderly transfer of the responsibility of the DDs and their related infrastructure to local governments, ministry staff will be recommending that the repeal date of the DDDA be extended to Dec. 31, 2020,” wrote Heather MacKnight, regional executive director of the South Coast Natural Resource region, in a letter to the township.

“For me, I don’t have concerns per se with the extension,” said Spallumcheen Coun. Christine Fraser. “I do think it’s important that FCDDD is able to get into the creek and do the repairs they need to do, and that this doesn’t mean they’re waiting five years to be able to get in there.

“My concern is if it’s going to be five more years, they’re not going to be able to get in the creek to prevent flooding that’s happening now.”

Ken DeRuiter is the chairperson of the FCDDD and he addressed township council Monday. He said every year, more and more acres in the district are lost to flooding.

“If I see what’s happened in the last seven years happen in the next five, we’re going to be losing a lot,” said DeRuiter.

There are about 45 properties on the FCDDD but they have no access to equipment needed to bring the district’s dike up to the proper code.

Council unanimously supported the five-year repeal extension though councillors Todd York and Joe Van Tienhoven were absent from the meeting.