Invermere applies for flood mitigation funding

By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Invermere is hoping to improve its flood control efforts in Athalmer, and is applying for grant money that would pay for risk assessment, flood plain mapping, and flood mitigation planning.

The grant application, totalling $150,000, is to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM)’s community emergency preparedness fund, and came up for discussion at the most recent Invermere council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Talk during the meeting frequently referenced the ice dam that created the flood of Toby Creek in the Athalmer area in winter of 2017.

“It’s pretty exciting stuff,” said Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik, outlining the application to council members. Hromadnik explained how the grant, if successful, would cover assessment, mapping and planning. “So three different phases. It’s for the influence of Toby Creek on the Athalmer lands, all the Athlamer land (by) Toby Creek on both sides of the train track.”

He proceeded to explain that “it includes re-establishing flood elevations based on climate risk and climate change modelling, mapping these elevations and setting elevation levels for our development bylaw that would set minimum elevations for foundations in the flood zone.”

The assessment, mapping and mitigation planning is just the first step in a two or three step process with UBCM, said Hromadnik, adding that without the first process, Invermere can’t apply for other funding that would cover operational measures aimed at preventing flooding, such as raising dike heights beside Toby Creek or putting in culverts on Panorama Drive.

“I’ve been in conversation with the provincial government. There is a really strong likelihood that we are going to get this. There are a couple of big tick boxes they are looking for,” said Hromadnik, going on to explain how Invermere clearly meets some of these required criteria, including that the district badly needs to update the flooding data it currently uses (which Hromadnik noted is “Second World War era”) and that the district has actually done quite a lot of work along Toby Creek in the industrial park, to the tune of around $500,000 since the ice dam flood.

“There’s a lot of activity down there, and a lot of evidence of Toby Creek wanting to return to its original path, which is actually through our public works yard and back toward James Chabot Beach. It won’t get there, because of the tracks, but that’s where it wants to go,” said Hromadnik. 

Councillor Greg Anderson noted that if the grant is successful, it would pay for 100 per cent of the cost of the assessment, mapping and mitigation planning, saying “this is a no-brainer (to support the application). Zero cost to the taxpayer. And the fact is with climate change pending, not pending but in fact continuing on, we’re going to be facing this (flooding) if we don’t do something now, and start taking action on our flood control measures down there.”