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Rain floods Pemberton farm



Heavy rainfall this week had a major impact on a tract of land near Collins Road and the railroad tracks, to the north of downtown Pemberton.

An estimated 160 acres of land was found flooded by the rain including portions of a property belonging to Bob Menzel, owner of Adventures on Horseback.

His property is regularly subject to flooding, so much that horses have even drowned in the muck.

Earlier this year the Agricultural Land Commission denied his application to subdivide his property into nine one-acre lots but there are plans afoot with the village to install a pump station that could help reduce the flooding.

The property is one of several that lie adjacent to a flood plain that's located between a mountain and a dyke built to support the BC Rail line. A small group of Pemberton residents gathered Tuesday morning to pull up culverts normally used to drain the plain. On that day they were clogged and had to be cleared up so the water could drain.

Jeff Westlake of the Pemberton Valley Dyking District said it was the most he's seen the plain flooded since the spring of 2007. He said a pump station could help alleviate the flooding but he's not certain of when that will come.

"For farmland there's a certain degree that's acceptable," he said. "This, I think, goes beyond that.

"I'm not a farmer so I don't know what the impact is to crops and livestock but you know, obviously your livestock is not going to want to be in that field right there."

Stuart Donald, an equipment operator for Coastal Mountain Excavations, has owned a property adjacent to the plain since 1984. He said the flooding happens because several years back, what was then BC Rail replaced a trestle with a dyke to prop up the railway - and that's created a flood plain.

"There used to be a big trestle here," he said. "Then they filled it in and put these culverts in because the trestle burnt. ...This was their fix, which obviously is not a fix."

CN Rail, which now owns BC Rail, could not be reached for comment.

The In-SHUCK-ch forest service road that leads down to the community of Skatin was also flooded by the extreme weather at the start of the week. Gord Menzel at Lizzie Bay Logging said the east side of the road was in rough enough shape that it had to be closed at about 67 kilometres in.

"There's a washout there," he said Tuesday. "If the water lets up enough tonight we're going to fix both of them up tomorrow."

Menzel said that side creeks started overflowing due to a two-foot dump of snow. He added, however, that "nobody's stranded" and that flooding on this level doesn't happen very often.

"I haven't see it like this for a couple of years."

Meanwhile, Pemberton residents returned home Monday night to find their cars navigating a pool of water that spread across the highway.

Brad Gerhardt, a roads supervisor with Howe Sound Mainroad Contracting Ltd., said that water was running across the road after a creek overflowed and found a new path down Mount Currie.

"It's basically an overflow of the creeks is what it is," he said. "I don't think anything is being threatened by it, we're monitoring it as we speak."