CSRD Meets With Deputy Minister Farnworth Regarding Newsome Creek

On June 13, 2019, representatives from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District met with Solicitor General Farnworth to discuss solutions for damages to Newsome Creek. Area C Director Paul Demenok stated the meeting was constructive and both parties showed a strong interest in working collaboratively.

Present at the meeting, which was held in Vancouver;

The meeting was a major step for NCWAG, who has been working with Director Demenok and the CSRD for the past nine months attempting to meet with officials from the provincial government. In anticipation of the meeting Deputy Minister Lori Halls visited Sorrento on June 10 to see first hand the damages in Newsome Creek above and below the Highway 1.

Scope of Funding Needed

Below Highway 1

Below Highway 1 from Westrek Study

In the Spring of 2019 Kerr Wood Leidal Engineering, with input from Westrek Geothechnical, completed a study that estimates the cost to repair damages in Newsome Creek below Highway 1 range form 4.8 to 8.2 million dollars. This is an indepth 41 page report with a wide variety of recommendations for mitigative work including: Riprap Lined Channel, Articulated Concrete Matt, Gabion Baskets, Lock Block Wall, Wood Drop Structures, Timber Cribbing, Sheet Piles and more. Read the study here.

It should be noted this only covers the area in immediate danger, below Highway 1, and does not cover costs for the upper region of the watershed in the Notch Hill area.

Culvert at Highway 1 May 2018
Culvert at Highway 1 May 2017

Culverts and Crossings

Danny Morris of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure indicated MoTI is planning on re-doing all the culverts from the lake up through Notch Hill. However, a culvert at Highway 1 may not be enough, and MoTI is leaning toward building a bridge. This puts the price tag up considerably, though its the best option for a long term solution. District Manager Steve Sirrett is working on a figure for a bridge at the crossing.

Possible Funding Sources

Director Demenok stated discussion with Minister Farnworth, and Deputy Minister Halls focused on a range of funding sources. The list of potential grants was quickly exhausted due to criteria and closing dates. However, Minister Farnworth identified the National Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, which is a federal program managed through Infrastructure Canada. Information from their website states;

An increasing number of Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast have experienced significant weather-related events and disasters triggered by natural hazards such as floods, wildland fires and droughts. These events are growing in frequency as a result of climate change and pose serious threats to communities and infrastructure. Infrastructure failures from natural hazards can result in threats to health and safety, interruptions in essential services, significant disruptions in economic activity, and high costs for recovery and replacement.

Infrastructure Canada

The Newsome Creek Watershed fits well with this fund. Our problems began with a wildland fire. Our community has experience damage to both our water system and our roads, and there is considerable threat to public safety.

The advantage of this fund is its potential for partnership funding between the provincial and the federal governments. The entry level, or the minimum amount of work to fund, is $20 million, which could include;

  • a bridge at Highway 1
  • mitigation work in the residential area below Highway 1
  • culverts from the lake up through Notch Hill
  • mitigation work in the Notch Hill area

Notch Hill Area

London Lane 2017
London Lane 2017

So far most of the attention has been on the immediate danger to homes and public safety in the residential area below Highway 1. However, residents on Notch Hill have also been directly effected. In May 2011 a home was almost washed away when heavy rains burst the creek banks and flooded properties. Farmland has been eroded, culverts have been clogged, and roads have been washing out since then.

The studies done to this point have not included Notch Hill, but a report is needed for this area, too. There was some unsubstantiated talk about a reservoir of some sort, although this is only hearsay. NCWAG has always maintained this issue includes the entire watershed, especially the area where the problem originates.

Next Steps

At this point CSRD is putting together its information package for the funding application, and MoTI is doing the same, including the cost of a bridge at Highway 1. The province will do the grant application, submitting it to the federal government program.

Minister Farnworth said he would be meeting with his federal counterpart in June and discussing the issue with him.

NCWAG will meet with Director Demenok again in August to discuss any outcomes or developments.