January 11, 2019 2:44 pm

Regional district in Columbia Shuswap approves funding to shore up creek

Eleven properties along Newsome Creek in Sorrento were placed on evacuation alert in 2018.

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The Columbia Shuswap Regional District has approved spending to shore up a section of Newsome Creek in Sorrento.

Calling it an urgent decision, the regional district’s board of directors voted to approve $25,000 in spending to address safety issues for residences located along the banks of Newsome Creek. The regional district also said directors voted unanimously to apply for federal and provincial funding to address erosion and slope stability issues.

The regional district said in 2017 and 2018, “spring freshets caused significant erosion to the banks in the reaches of the creek below the Trans-Canada Highway in Sorrento, affecting several properties along Caen Road. Stream bank undercutting and slope failures in 2018 resulted in 11 properties needing to be placed on evacuation alert.

“Further stream bank erosion continues to be very likely, especially in spring 2019 when higher stream flows are anticipated.”

WATCH BELOW: (Aired Oct. 24, 2018) Provincial help wanted to prevent creek erosion from damaging property in Sorrento

“The issue here is the urgency of the scenario,” said director Paul Demenok. “We’ve got homes, properties, businesses and lives at risk here.”

The $25,000 contribution for the assessment and work plan will be matched by funds from Emergency Management B.C.

Some of the residences near Newsome Creek.

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The regional district said the potential costs are of concern, as it is the CSRD’s position that watercourses are a provincial area of responsibility, and that it is the streamflow at Newsome Creek which is undermining the stability of the adjacent properties.

“This is terrifying for the folks that live along there. They live it every day,” said board chair Rhona Martin. “But at this end of things, we need to know what we are stepping into. What precedent will this set to be in a position to be expected to take on things we may not be financially able to commit to?”

READ MORE: The province is creating defenses to combat coastal erosion

Columbia Shuswap Regional District chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton said the regional district has received information from the province that it needs to play the lead role in restoring the stream flows, with the assistance of other provincial emergency funding.

“While I do not agree with it being our responsibility, barring a legal challenge, it appears they are shifting the onus onto the CSRD to do something,” Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, area residents have formed the Newsome Creek Watershed Action Group and will be co-hosting a community meeting with the CSRD on Tuesday, January 22, at 6:30 PM at the Sorrento Memorial Hall. Federal and provincial representatives have been invited and members of CSRD staff will reportedly be in attendance.

For more information on the meeting, click here.

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