It has caused millions of dollars in damage in Kelowna the last few years: unprecedented flooding.
Residents living along Mill Creek were especially hit hard.
“We know well here in this community, in the last couple of years certainly, that we have a flooding problem in this area. Both Mill Creek and Mission Creek are problematic,” Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr said.
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The 2017 flood season damaged many homes and business along the creek, which winds its way across the city.
But now relief is on the way.
On Friday morning, Ralph Goodale, federal minister for public safety and emergency preparedness, announced $22 million for flood mitigation work along Mill Creek.
“We have implemented, or now in the process of implementing, a program under our infrastructure envelope that’s called the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund,” Goodale told Global news.”It’s $2 billion that we will be investing across the country over the next number of years, specifically to prepare communities to be more resilient to the consequences of climate change.”
Standing along Mill Creek, Goodale said extreme weather events like floods are getting worse and more frequent and in Kelowna, flood mitigation work along Mill Creek is a high priority.
“Kelowna made a submission for dealing with the Mill Creek problem, which obviously is a serious impact, consequence of climate change,” he said. “It has damaged this community in many ways . . . we made the calculation that this was a very good project that was hitting the target in terms of what this program was for, and we’ve made a commitment of $22 million.”
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran was on hand and expressed joy at the funding announcement.
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“Absolutely thrilled because we’ve seen how climate change is impacting our community. We have seen significant flooding over the last few years,” he said.
Basran said the $22 million will be used for various flood protection projects along the creek.
“Increasing capacity along Mill Creek, increasing storage capacity along Mill Creek, maybe diversion projects where some of the creek will be diverted to other bodies of water,” Basran said.
The work will happen in stages beginning some time in 2020 and could take up to eight years before it’s all complete.
While it will take some time, residents living near the creek who were hard hit by the floods were delighted to hear the news.
“Very good news, really happy about it,” area resident Marion Krahn said. “Hopefully the weather is going to be on our side, and if it takes eight years, it takes eight years.”
Donna Selnes also lives near the creek. Her home sustained significant flood damage in 2017.
She, too, was relieved to hear about the funding announcement, adding that each project will be another step toward feeling secure.
“Everything takes time,” she said. “If they plan it out properly, I think people are prepared to every year see it a little bit better and better.”