Mayor’s Column – May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017

 

This is the day of the promised report on the recount of the votes in the ridings in which the contestants are neck-and-neck, to use racing language. But I’m not going to write further on the election. You’ll have to get your political jollies somewhere else.

Today is also just two weeks and two days since Emergency Management BC called the various communities and first responders in the region to alert us to the potential of significant flooding during the next couple of days. As if that wasn’t enough to push our alert buttons, it was already raining. And not only that, barely eleven months had passed into misty history since the last major flood which took out millions of good Canadian dollars, including yours, (at 0.7264 cents) and washed them down the silty rivers, not even food for fish.

Our June, 2016 heartbreak was still fresh and sore and we were faced with potential for more.

While most of the recovery work from the 2016 event had been completed – witness the beautiful repairs to Spirit Park since 2016, now needing more repair, the bridge construction on Nicholson Road was just under way when the high water intervened to take out the diversion culvert.

But let me retrace a few strokes. Councillors Weisgerber and Brownlee with the CAO and the Mayor met with CN Rail in Terrace just a week prior to the rain to reinforce earlier communications about the vulnerability of the CN crossing of Windrem Creek where the culverts failed in 2016 and the stream diversion occurred with its resulting serious damage to South Access Road and area businesses.

CN gave your delegation a polite hearing and kept close watch on the crossing until the danger was over so we know that this crossing is on the CN radar.

The Director of Engineering and Public Works, Paul Gordon, kept watch of our home town round the clock either personally or through other staff members and ensured that the appropriate equipment was in place and able to respond quickly. Equipment stationed at all vulnerable locations to ensure free flow of water. Two excavators were stationed at the Windrem CN culverts and two at the Post Office bridge to remove water-transported material and reduce the potential for flooding. Obviously, there are hundreds of truckloads of rock and gravel up in them thar hills and Windrem Creek is an efficient transportation vehicle. Problem is, it dumps them at the Post Office bridge and creates havoc with the water flow. The Post Office bridge is always a concern in a major water flow. In 2016 two excavators worked round the clock for several days loading trucks with the rocks and gravel from the creek. This year two excavator also were used to handle the workload and keep five trucks busy dumping the gravel in the Public Works yard where we now have another massive supply of road-building material.

Additional much-needed help was provided by personnel from the BC Wildfire Service, an emergency-response team whose expertise is not generally needed during a flood. But they put their muscles to our service by filling several thousand sandbags to redirect errant streams. Happily the bags were not needed – this time.

This gives me an easy way to keep my footing while I slip into the next topic – summer’s not over and we need to pray that those sandbags stay on their pallets. We, and you, also need to take personal measures to minimize damage that may occur between now and October when, we trust, the 2017 danger is over.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor