Mayor’s Column – July 12, 2017

July 12, 2017

 

We are into July and the floods have not come. However, this is no cause for relaxing our vigilance and going on vacation. Just kidding about your vacation. You’d better take it because you need it. Paul is on high alert.

I am reminded of an ancient teaching about preparation: Don’t build your house on the sand; build it on the rock so that when the floods come and the winds blow, as they will, the chance of your house standing through high water and a gale is much enhanced.

Chetwynd has received a grant of $150,000 to help the community identify those metaphorical rocks that will increase our chances of surviving the next flood with minimal damage to municipal infrastructure as well as to your personal investments in real estate – if we build on them.

Having noted that, we need to understand that private property owners have an obligation to protect their own properties as far as humanly possible. Are your own drains, sumps, and backwater valves adequate for the job? What about an electrical generator in the event of an extended power loss? Are you equipped to respond to a personal emergency and, if necessary give aide to a neighbour?

Chetwynd has engaged Urban Systems, a city planning and engineering firm, to perform an analysis of flood hazards and to recommend measures we can take as a municipality to reduce our corporate risks. Some of you may have attended the Open House on July 11. Of course, some of you didn’t attend. But maybe you should have.

Because the floods will come. Maybe not in five years. Maybe not in ten. But come they will and sad the town or the family that is not at least in some measure ready and knowledgeable.

Of course there is a cost to preparation. One hundred fifty grand will only give us a picture of the hazards and some ideas about to how to reduce them. The big cost is still to come and your Council will have to weigh its priorities when it comes to spending your tax dollars. Will it be streets, water mains, sewers, trees, sidewalks, lighting, or will it be deepening the bed of Windrem Creek, dyking Widmark Creek, or increasing the capacity of bridges and culverts – against a flood that might not hit us for twenty years or more.

But don’t count on twenty years or more of grace before the nest high water excitement grips us. Does anyone reading this remember the massive flood of ’64 and the destruction it wreaked on Chetwynd? How about ’89 – that was a twenty-five-year gap? Most of us, of course, can clearly recall the pain and upset of 2011 when bridges, roads, businesses, homes, and other properties were severely damaged. We had not fully recovered from 2011 when we were smacked again almost exactly five years later.

My point? We don’t know the day or the hour but history has told us that there is another flood event sometime in our corporate future. We are thankful for the help we have received to make intelligent plans to minimize flood risk. We also need the will to actually put in effect the measures that will reduce the damage potential when water comes down on us in fury.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor