By Nicole Trigg
Flood protection funding has come through for the Fairmont Hot Springs community just as a bylaw giving it recourse to cover its fair share found traction at the Regional District of East Kootenay board table.
Im over the moon with it, said Area F Director Wendy Booth. And the level of engagement and support from the community has been exceptional, and something Im pretty proud of.
Thanks to a joint investment by the governments of Canada and British Columbia, Fairmont Hot Springs is one of twenty-six communities throughout B.C. that will benefit from $27 million geared toward flood mitigation projects selected by the province. The funding model is such that the federal and provincial governments provide up to two-thirds with local governments covering the remainder.
When the funding application was made for Fairmont last fall, it was unclear how the local one third would be covered as the community had two disparate Flood Control Service Areas one for Fairmont Creek with 34 properties, and one for Cold Spring Creek with 113 which only covered a portion of the Fairmont Hot Springs community.
We knew when we made that application we did not have that one third, because for those 34 property owners it was going to be way too much money and a tax burden, said Director Booth. The reality is its the whole community thats affected by these flood events.
Fairmont Creek was the cause of the 2012 debris slide whereas both Cold Spring and Fairmont Creeks jumped their banks during last years flooding event.
After the summer of 2013, we had the Level of Assessment report that said one creek had an abundant supply of sediment yet to come down and the other one had an unlimited supply of sediment, and given the right climatic conditions, both creeks are vulnerable, she said. Thats when we had the common sense and logic to combine the service areas to include all of Fairmont. About the same time, the funding application was announced and we applied.
The total eligible cost of the proposed Fairmont Creek Debris Flow Mitigation project came to $$467,330 with the federal and provincial share covering $311,553. At the monthly regional district meeting in Cranbrook on Friday, May 2nd, three readings were given to the Fairmont Flood & Landslide Service Establishment Bylaw, which amalgamates the two service areas and permits taxation to raise the required local government portion of $155,770. The bylaw will be forwarded to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for approval prior to coming back to the board for adoption.
The fact that they both came through together is coincidental and its very positive, but we by no means knew that was going to happen at the onset, Director Booth said.
After applying for the grant but prior to knowing if the service area amalgamation would go through, Director Booth approached different local organizations, which underscored their commitment to community flood protection with private financial commitments.
If the service area didnt go ahead, we wouldnt have the ability to tax to raise our third, so we had a number we had to get to, said Director Booth.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort committed $10,000 as did Mountainside Vacation Villas, while the Fairmont Business Association and Fairmont Lions Club promised $3,000 each, and the Fairmont Community Association committed $1,000.
As the regional district board committed $77,880 of Gas Tax funds in January, that leaves $50,800 still required to meet our one-third local share. That can now be raised with property taxation of the Fairmont Flood & Landslide Service Area, said Director Booth.
We are still vulnerable and at risk for this flood season but, having said that, the fact that we can get both sides of this to come together at the same time is amazing, she said. If we can get through this spring, then the work can be done into the fall and over the winter.
According to a regional district report, Phase 2 of the project will see the Fairmont Creek channel widened and bank protection with rock armour between the downstream portion of the Marble Canyon works and hole #12 on the Mountainside Golf Course. This work will increase the capacity of the creek and assist in keeping debris or high water within the creek channel.
More information on the funding program can be found at www.bcbuildingcanadafundcommunities.ca and www.infrastructure.gc.ca .