The long-outstanding debate over the Fitzsimmons land slump has finally been resolved.
After discussions with the province, the municipality has agreed to pay for a debris structure on the creek.
Because the negotiations are not yet finalized, the deal cannot be made public as yet. But, this year’s Five Year Financial Plan shows a $6 million budget for work on the creek.
“There’s been long-term discussions with the province about flood protection work, so the municipality and the province have discussed this for a long time and it’s only recently that we started to anticipate that there could be work associated with this, so we’ve included it in our budget now,” said Brian Barnett, general manager of environmental services at the municipality.
Building a debris structure came out of recommendations from a provincial engineering study in February 2005. That study looked at the potential hazard posed by the oft-publicized land slump.
A study by EBA Engineering Consultants states:
“The Fitzsimmons Slide itself poses little direct threat to property or life. Indirectly, the threat lies in the potential to temporarily block Fitzsimmons Creek channel, possibly resulting in a flood or debris flow which could impact Whistler Village downstream of the site.”
Several options to deal with the slump and to protect the village were analyzed by the provincial consultants and a debris structure was the long-term recommendation.
It was not clear whether the province or the municipality would pay for the structure. Current negotiations see the municipality footing the bill.
The debris structure doesn’t just address the land slump, said Barnett, but also the flood protection standards for that creek.
The municipality is planning to combine the work on the debris structure, which could be located near the skiers’ bridge, with the building of a sediment basin further downstream.
Every year gravel and sand are removed from the creek in various locations. A basin would trap sediment in one area and allow for most of the removal to happen from one location.
“It will allow us to do the removal in a more environmentally sensitive manner so that we don’t have to go down in various parts of the river that might have sensitive fish habitat,” said Barnett.
Work on the multi-million-dollar project will begin this year with preliminary engineering studies. Detailed studies will be done next year with a potential start date for the work in 2008 and completion by the end of 2009.
The municipality has set aside $6 million for the work in the current plan. The bulk of the money will come from the Transportation Works Charges Reserve.