Flood protection open house held for Tapley's residents 

Three main options presented for public consideration

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - TALKING OPTIONS James Hallisey, the RMOW's manager of environmental projects, speaks to attendees of a flood protection open house at Myrtle Philip Community School on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
  • Photo by Braden Dupuis
  • TALKING OPTIONS James Hallisey, the RMOW's manager of environmental projects, speaks to attendees of a flood protection open house at Myrtle Philip Community School on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Nearly a year after a flash flood destroyed his basement, the sight of black clouds makes John Murphy anxious.

"Every time it rains, I get a little bit twitchy," Murphy said.

On December 10, 2014, more than 70 millimetres of rain fell on Whistler — the most seen in a single day all year.

The deluge caused Crabapple Creek at the Whistler Golf Club to jump its banks, the flow redirecting straight into Murphy's basement.

"I don't know if it's just paranoia, but I keep checking that river and I keep going down in my basement in the middle of the night, because I just panic," Murphy said. "I don't know when it's going to happen again, and I don't know if the measures I've taken so far to counter that next flood are good enough."

Murphy is not alone. Residents in the Tapley's Farm area of Whistler Cay have been dealing with flood anxiety for years.

On Sept. 23, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) held an open house to present three options for flood protection, as well as one for Crabapple Creek.

Option A would see a flood channel and detention pond built to the northwest of the railway tracks. The channel would have a top width of 11 metres and a channel depth of 3 metres. Two 1.5-metre culverts would be installed in the Valley Trail to drain the pond into the surrounding wetland area.

A weir would be installed at the entrance of the flood channel, and the RMOW could control the flow through the channel if need be.

This method would cost about $160,000 and have no direct impact on private properties.

"It doesn't prevent the water from Crabapple Creek and all the creeks from converging there, but 21 Mile Creek is the biggest piece of the flood issues, generally," said James Hallisey, the RMOW's manager of environmental projects.

Option B is to construct a flood berm, or dyke, along the River of Golden Dreams from the Valley Trail bridge to the CN Rail bridge.

The berm would be about 1.8 metres above the ground and have a top width of about four metres.

The total width of the completed berm would be about 11 metres, but the total area disturbed by construction would be about 15 metres.

The RMOW believes Option B would provide the best flood protection, but at a cost of $600,000 it carries the biggest price tag.

"It's also the most invasive option," Hallisey said. "I think by the time we would be done there really wouldn't be any trees between the backs of people's properties and the creek along that section."

Hearing that news, one open house attendee said simply: "That's a problem."

Option C involves re-grading or raising flood-prone properties, either by the RMOW or homeowners themselves.

A professional flood-control engineer would ensure that flood and erosion risk wouldn't be transferred elsewhere.

Option C is expected to cost about $80,000.

The option presented for Crabapple Creek is to raise the Valley Trail by about 1.2 metres for a stretch of about 80 metres to prevent overland flooding.

All of the options presented at the open house are preliminary designs — the RMOW is hoping to hear from the community before moving forward.

"What I'm hearing repeatedly is that people think that we should look at this on a bit of a bigger scope, and I'll take that back to council," Hallisey said.

In a follow-up email, the RMOW said staff will review all feedback before reporting back to council — likely on Oct. 20. If the feedback suggests a significant amount of residents want to see different options, that information will be relayed to council as well.

The preferred option will be considered in the RMOW's 2016 budget process.

The options presented at the open house can be found at www.whistler.ca/floodcontrol.

Comments on the flood control options can be submitted to engineers@whistler.ca before Monday, Oct. 5.



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