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Squamish getting flood protection money

Feds and province funding three projects



A torrent of money has been announced for Squamish to help prevent future flooding.

Three projects aimed at improving the community's ability to manage high water events will go ahead thanks to a $442,200 contribution from the federal and provincial governments. The money will be used to upgrade the Harris Slough Pump Station, the Whittaker Slough Flood Box and the Stawamus River Dike.

According to Brian Barnett, the District of Squamish (DOS) General Manager Engineering and Parks, when the work is done floodwaters will be kept away from developed areas of Squamish, and there won't be any disturbance to residents while construction is underway.

"Ideally, what will happen is the residents don't see any impact because that means all the flood protection measures are working properly so there is no flooding taking place, there is no emergency in terms of dike issues," said Barnett. "A no news is good news result is what we are looking for from these projects."

The work at the pump station is a simple electrical upgrade. The Whittaker Slough project, near the West Coast Railway Heritage Park, is a larger project that involves the installation of a pipe through the dike and replacing a leaking flood box.

The work on the Stawamus dike is the most expensive of the three projects and it involves putting riprap at the toe of an existing dike to better protect the Valleycliffe area. Barnett said most of the large rock needed to shore up the dike has been stockpiled near the dike so residents won't notice an influx of heavy truck traffic during the work period.

The original funding application was made at this time last year and a forth project was included in the application. The DOS requested $12,000 for the installation of a water level monitoring station at the Cheakamus River Bridge. The monitoring station is desired because it would, according to a report submitted to Squamish Council last year by Barnett, provide near real-time information that will help the DOS make informed flood management decisions.

"Thank you to the federal and provincial governments for this important community funding," Mayor Rob Kirkham said when he learned about the flow of money into his town. "Flood protection is critical for our community and these funds allow the District of Squamish to complete three flood protection projects that are high priorities for our community."

The application for the funding was based on the findings of a study done by the engineering firm Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd. The engineering company reviewed the community's flood protection systems and reported on the aspects of the system most in need of improvements.

The three projects that are going ahead will do nothing to address seepage and piping concerns identified during the flood of 2003 at the Government Road eagle viewing area near Camp Squamish. Despite the fact that Squamish Council voted last year to treat the issue as an emergency and spend $900,000 as soon as possible, no work has been done to address the lingering issue.

While Squamish is celebrating the arrival of flood funding, residents of Pemberton and the Cheakamus Reserve are lobbying for money to address their concerns about potential flooding.

"Both the Birkenhead and the Lillooet Rivers threaten Mount Currie and there is no flood protection," Mayor Jordan Sturdy said last week after learning that the 23 homes on the Cheakamus Reserve in Squamish are not protected from potential future floods. "In fact, the Lillooet system contains the water behind the dikes, channels it, and then lets it spill out just upstream of Mount Currie making the situation even worse."

The Pemberton flooding concern was discussed at the most recent meeting of the Squamish Lillooet Regional District representatives.