Investigation reveals issues with maintenance, government response to North Okanagan flash flood event

A flash flood knocked out Mabel Lake Road at Cooke Creek in 2014.

NORTH OKANAGAN - An investigation launched after a 2014 flash flood near Enderby has found issues with road maintenance, culvert design, and the government’s response to public concerns.

The Forest Practices Board, B.C.'s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, announced today, Oct. 27, in a media release that it is concerned the Okanagan Shuswap Resource District and B.C. Timber Sales did not comply with legislation or their own risk management policies and procedures.

The board says it began investigating after a public complaint was received about road maintenance on the Cooke Creek Forest Service Road near Enderby.

The complaint was filed after two culverts at the mouth of Dale Lake failed and sections of the road were washed out in a debris flood in May 2014. The complainant said that he raised concerns with district staff about the condition of the culverts, but they were not heeded, the board says.

"The investigation found that the district cleaned out a culvert in response to one concern, but did not respond to the complainant's concerns on two other occasions," board chair Tim Ryan says. "This lack of response was not adequate."

B.C. Timber Sales did not inspect or maintain the road between 2006 and 2014. Ministry policy required annual inspections during that period. In 2007, the district installed a culvert that was too small to withstand a one-in-100-year flood, which is a requirement of the Forest and Range Practices Act, according to the board.

"Improvements are also needed in training, management, record keeping and the way in which public concerns and complaints are recorded and acted upon,” the release states.

The board is recommending that B.C. Timber Sales and the district announce within 30 days how they will avoid similar road design and maintenance issues in the future.


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