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Whistler to receive $300,000 for flood control

Provincial funding announced for Fitzsimmons Creek work



It was confirmed this week that Whistler is getting some help from the provincial government to reduce the risk to the village posed by the Fitzsimmons Creek land slump.

The funding is part of a province wide Natural Hazards Mitigation Fund. The initial $1.5 million dedicated by the government in April for the fund was doubled to $3 million this week. When the fund was first announced, the municipality applied for help with four projects. Three projects were approved for funding.

The aim of the projects is to significantly decrease the risk posed by the Fitzsimmons Creek slump on the north side of Whistler Mountain. Under examination for more than a decade, the possibility of the whole slump letting go was assessed as low, according to a report released earlier this year by the government. However, the report stated there was concern with the continued degradation of the slump and the release of gravel into the creek.

Whistler and Pemberton will receive a combined $525,600 from the fund. In Whistler, the province awarded $11,812.50 to the RMOW for continued maintenance of Fitzsimmons Creek and to remove accumulated debris in the upstream sections of creek. A further $150,000, the maximum funding available to individual projects, will be used to remove 47,500 cubic metres of gravel from the creek. Another $150,000 is to be used to construct a sediment basin with the aim of reducing the impact of debris on the downstream channel. The basin should also allow the municipality to concentrate gravel removal efforts in one location.

The RMOW will begin work on the projects this summer, said Diana Waltmann, the municipality’s information officer. She said gravel removal from the creek will most likely begin in August.

"Gravel removal can only occur in a certain window of time that the Ministry of Environment allows you to go in," she explained. The ministry approves a window when the least damage will be done to fish habitats.

"We’re surveying right now to see where gravel removal would be best," said Waltmann. "The Provincial Emergency Program (PAP) has already gone in in February and undertaken gravel removal from Fitzsimmons Creek opposite the skate park. That doesn’t need work, but farther downstream probably needs work. So we’ll look at that. When that window comes up we can go in there."

In Pemberton $150,000 was awarded to raise some existing dikes and another $63,787.50 will be used to expand the river flow capacity at the Lillooet River Forestry Bridge by installing large culverts.

The purpose of the provincial mitigation fund is to protect communities from flooding and other natural disasters by taking care of potential problems before they evolve into disasters. However, there are limitations on the fund. The province will only fund up to 75 per cent of the cost of a project, up to a maximum of $150,000. The remaining costs are to be shared with municipalities, diking authorities, regional districts or provincial agencies.

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety John Les said, "There was a huge response from communities wanting to access the fund, so we’ve decided to double the money available."

Joan McIntyre, MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi, said she was happy to see both Pemberton and Whistler receive funding and hopes that the investment will prevent any major flooding disasters in the future.