Columbia Valley Pioneer staff

A $13.5 million debris flow mitigation project will soon be underway in Fairmont.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) has awarded a construction contract to MacKay Contracting from Cranbrook for the highly anticipated Cold Spring Creek Debris Flow Mitigation Project.

“There has been extensive work by staff (with support from our board) during unprecedented construction cost fluctuations to secure funding and refine the design and project scope to allow the project to move forward,” said Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok.

As the project site is located on property owned by Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, she said the  RDEK is grateful for the company’s ongoing support and contribution to the project.

There are four key components to the project: a barrier and outlet structure to capture debris; a creek diversion and basin for debris storage behind the barrier; reinforcement and relocation of some of the water lines that service the community of Fairmont; and construction of an access road.

Brian Funke, RDEK manager of engineering, said the first priorities for construction will be focused on the access road, water main relocation, creek diversion, basin excavation and starting the outlet structure. Later in 2024, the concrete debris barrier and outlet structure will be built.

“Throughout the course of the construction, the work area will be closed to the public for the safety of both the public and workers,” Funke noted 

As the work is expected to start this week, the most noticeable impacts within Fairmont will be an increase in traffic, according to the RDEK. To help mitigate this, there will be signage posted and flaggers when necessary; however, the RDEK is urging residents to use extra caution throughout the construction phase.

The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.


At the end of May 2020, combined rain and snowmelt resulted in debris floods in the area of Cold Spring Creek and Fairmont Creek (approximately 20,000 cubic metres of debris was deposited in the upper catchment basins upstream of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, and an additional 10,000 cubic metres was deposited in the armoured channel that flows through the golf course and into the golf course pond.)

In Cold Spring Creek, approximately 2,000 cubic metres of debris was deposited in the Cold Spring reservoir, and an additional 2,000 cubic metres was deposited in the lower Cold Spring debris trap. In addition to the large volumes of debris that were captured in the traps, the high flows overwhelmed culverts along both creeks causing minor localized flooding.

In a report by the RDEK, the 2020 flood was estimated to be roughly a one-in-35 year event. Previously, the return period of the 2012 debris flood was estimated to be a one-in-500 year event; however, an updated geotechnical assessment has now estimated it to be a one-in-165 year event.

Cold Spring Creek debris flow.
(Photo by RDEK)