The Village of Pemberton should take quick action to halt erosion on the Green River, an Airport Road property owner said at the Village of Pemberton council meeting on Feb. 17.
Dennis Perry, also speaking on behalf of his partners Robert and Dagmar Hungerford, said the three have owned the property at 1674 Airport Rd. since 2011. The property borders Big Sky Golf and Country Club to the east and the Green River to the west.
"When we purchased the property in 2011, we assumed the risk of flood in the valley," Perry said. "What we didn't count on was this incredible erosion that's taken place along Green River.
"Huge swathes of ground and trees (are) going into the river.
"It's a river that's become very wild right at the boundary of the village."
Perry explained the bulk of properties within the village are well protected, but said there is "zero protection" for Airport Road lands. The land Perry and his partners own was annexed by the village in 2011.
"Hundreds of feet have been eroded off the east bank of the Green River where the river transitions from east to south at our place," Perry said. "What's even more alarming is the degree of that erosion, because the edge of the bank has been cut back a good 50 feet (15 metres) over this three-year period."
He hypothesized the cause of the erosion is a large sandbar near the bend in the river by the property.
"As it comes eastward, it's pushing all this water that's going rapidly around the corner right into the east bank and carving all this land and all these trees right out and dumping them in the river," he said.
Perry presented aerial shots from 1947, 2006 and 2009 demonstrating that the river used to flow north and into Pemberton Creek. There was also a portion of the river that flowed at the base of Mount Currie, while a relative trickle flowed near the base of Signal Hill as it does now.
Perry presented four solutions to council ranging from dredging the sandbar to riprapping the banks (placing large boulders along the banks), otherwise diking the banks, or partially realigning the river to direct more of the flow into the Mount Currie branch of the river. He said he'd defer to the experts on the "best" solution, but reasoned that because of the river's historical flow, realignment is a sensible solution.
"If we simply increased the flow in this portion and took the pressure off of here (the east bank of Perry's property), I think you'd have a heck of a lot healthier river system and you'd eliminate all this erosion that's taken place," he said. "Given there's already water flowing there, you may need to only dig that creek down one foot (0.3 metres) where it starts to increase the flow. It might take little effort at all with negligible cost."
Perry hasn't priced out any of the solutions, but has contacted the provincial government regarding emergency funding. He stressed the importance of the Village of Pemberton's involvement.
"We're not in the position the government is to ask those questions and get those answers," he said. "We know we need to have local government onside to make anything happen anyway."
Steve Flynn of the Pemberton Valley Dyking District, along with other experts on the topic, has met with Perry and other stakeholders regarding the situation before. Flynn was in attendance at the meeting, but could not speak publicly when asked by Mayor Mike Richman.
"The protocol for communications (is) it should go through the board," Flynn said.
Richman said council will look into the issue and will consult with Flynn regarding how to proceed on a remedy.
"At some point, we can ask Mr. Flynn to give us his priority list, and what they look at, but they're constantly looking at the changes in the rivers and the dikes, coming up with a capital plan and a priority plan," Richman said.
"At a certain point here, we'll defer to Mr. Flynn and staff to have a conversation and get a better understanding of what's going on and where it sits in terms of the priority list."
Council voted to receive the presentation.
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