Flooding issues in the South Okanagan, Similkameen dominate regional meeting with MLAs - InfoNews

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Flooding issues in the South Okanagan, Similkameen dominate regional meeting with MLAs

Newly re-elected Penticton MLA Dan Ashton and Boundary Similkameen MLA Linda Larson met with regional district directors, Thursday, June 1, 2017.
June 01, 2017 - 4:30 PM

PENTICTON - Regional district board members' concerns about the lengthy provincial flood response, and the need for a review when the emergency is over, dominated a discussion with the newly re-elected MLAs Dan Ashton and Linda Larson today.

It was the first meeting today, June 1, between the board and the two MLAs since their successful re-election bid on May 9, and high on the list of topics was the ongoing efforts to mitigate flooding in Penticton, and the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

Cawston director George Bush wanted to know what control the province had over the amount of water being released through the Okanagan River system. He asked if a mistake had been made regarding water release that has exacerbated the present situation.

“It’s a guessing game," Ashton said. "I know some of the models were thrown out the window with the tremendous amount of rain we got months ago, and the extraordinary snowpacks that came late."

He said the ground was so saturated it wasn't absorbing any of the rain.

The Penticton River Channel is running at 110 per cent capacity and no more water could be put through it without damaging the channel, the water is starting to run so high the Similkameen River’s discharge into Okanagan River may start to reverse flow back into Osoyoos Lake due to high water, he said.

“I’m quite sure there are going to be a lot of questions," Ashton said. "I’m quite sure when this is all over there’s going to be a review of how and why, and could we have done things any different, but how do you predict the weather?”

Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit asked whether the province was prepared to lighten up regarding environmental edicts should the City need to repair erosion damage along the waterfront.

“Will the province be anal or restrictive on erosion replacement? If sand at the beach washed away and we wanted to put a truckload of sand there, is the province going to put up restrictions?” he said.

“I hope not. I really hope not,” Ashton replied.

He said there had to be a coordinated effort for repairs, with the province looking at erosion repair on a regional basis so the financial onus isn’t placed on the property owner.

“Common sense needs to take place on these issues,” he said.

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