By Steve Hubrecht

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The District of Invermere is working on a new floodplain management bylaw. 

The idea stems from the Toby Creek Flood Risk Study, completed by the district last year. 

District staff and consultants gave a presentation on the potential bylaw, outlining some of the findings of the flood risk study and laying out the process for getting the new bylaw in place during the Tuesday, Nov. 14 Invermere committee of the whole meeting.

Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik explained to the Pioneer that the district’s old flood risk mapping was based on data from 1982. It was high time for new data, which is what prompted the Toby Creek Flood Risk Study.

“With climate change things are obviously not the same. Things are much more volatile,” Hromadnik told the Pioneer. 

For instance, the 1982 data used a one-in-120 year flood event as one of its benchmarks. The new study broadened the scope considerably to a one-in-200 year flood event.

Hromadnik noted that Toby Creek is quite different than many rivers, because it is susceptible to ice jams and landslides. These events have the potential to create serious floods in Athalmer. The low-lying neighbourhood (which is also the site of Invermere’s industrial park, and its sewage lagoons) sits couched between the lower reaches of the Toby and Columbia River wetlands.

The bylaw is set to get first and second reading during the next Invermere council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28. After that, there will be public consultation, including webinars to be held in December.

Hromadnik added the district is keen to tap into the local knowledge of long-time residents who may remember flood events from past decades in and around Athalmer.

The bylaw is unlikely to come forward to council for adoption until January “at very earliest,” said Hromadnik.