Ramey Rooke of Kelowna has been moving a lot of dirt lately.
Actually, he’s been at it for nearly a year, ever since last spring’s flood season, when he lost a good chunk of his property to nearby Bellevue Creek.
“The creek washed out about 30 metres of my property,” said Rooke.
The creek came within inches of taking his swimming pool. And if the pool had gone, the house was next.
So in order to protect his home, Rooke had to put down a lot of rip-rap by the creek bed – a very expensive undertaking.
“It all has to be certified to be safe for the creek to meet environmental standards, because it’s got to be safe for the fish,” said Rooke.
“The rock is expensive, too. They figure it’s about a dollar a rock, but I needed 20,000 of them.”
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Rooke went looking for help. First from his insurance company, but was denied.
“I was sold insurance but was told that I wasn’t covered, even though I disclosed that I lived near a creek,” he said.
He then went looking for assistance from the City of Kelowna, because he says it had redirected the creek in the past and should be held partly responsible.
“Why aren’t they liable or at least taking some responsibility for changing the creek,” Rooke wondered.
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Mayor Colin Basran wrote to Rooke, saying: “Emergency Management B.C. has denied funding assistance due to the fact it is private property, there were no residential structures at risk, no city infrastructure, and the creek bank was not protected with an approved erosion protection barrier. The damage to private property is not something that the city is responsible for.”
So Rooke is on his own and offers this advice regarding homes along waterways: do your homework and check it twice.
“I don’t regret living here or owning this piece of property,” said Rooke.
“I just wish I had spent a little more time researching what owning property with a creek running through it meant.”