By Steve Hubrecht

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Invermere council gave first and second reading last week to a bylaw up- dating the District of Invermere’s flood management plans. Public consultation on the bylaw is set for next week.

The initial readings of the bylaw are the latest steps in a process that, in some respects, was kick-started back in December 2016. Pioneer readers with keen memories will recall that’s when an ice jam on Toby Creek caused the river to dramatically breach its banks in the Invermere neighbourhood of Athalmer and flood the low-lying ar- eas nearby. District staff leapt into ac- tion and worked furiously with heavy machinery to redirect the flow of water back into the main channel of the Toby and to shore up the spots where the riv- er had broken through the banks.

That incident, combined with the increased risk of severe flood events brought about by climate change, prompted the district to undertake an official Toby Creek Flood Risk Assessment study. That was completed in summer 2022, and district staff have used the findings of the study to help fashion its new floodplain management bylaw.

The bylaw will set in place guide- lines for future land use planning and building construction that will help minimize property damage, injury, human trauma and loss of life during flooding.

Council gave first and second read- ing to the bylaw at its Tuesday, Nov. 28 meeting and then set public consulta- tion for it on Wednesday. Dec. 13 in the form of an online public information session.

The new floodplain bylaw uses a one-in-200 year flood as the basis of its calculations, Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik explained to council. He noted the district got a $500,000 grant to raise its dike high enough to match the one-in-200 year flood event predictions as well as an extra 0.6 metres of free- board above that level.

He also explained that when flood- ing does happen in Athalmer, water seems to pool at the corner of Industrial Road 3 and Industrial Road 4.