Pemberton receives $496,000 for flood protection 

The Pemberton Valley Dyking District (PVDD) could have a new weapon against flooding with the receipt of $496,000 from the provincial government.

The money will help widen 400 metres of existing dyke at two locations near Miller Creek in Pemberton. It will put 8,000 cubic metres of fill at both locations and thus help guard nearby residents against overflowing waters.

“The Village of Pemberton will receive some added insulation against the risk of flooding,” West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Joan McIntyre said in a statement. “Residents will soon have greater protection for their homes and businesses and a safer environment for raising their families.”

The funding comes from the Building Canada infrastructure plan, a federal initiative that has provided more than $2.7 billion to public infrastructure projects in British Columbia. Pemberton’s money comes from the province’s 10-year Flood Protection Program, which aims to provide $100 million to help guard communities against flooding.

“Strengthening our communities and public infrastructure against the effects of extreme natural events is essential to protecting Canadians,” Stockwell Day, the federal minister of Public Safety, said in a statement.

“The Government of Canada is taking action to strengthen local emergency preparedness and response capabilities.”

Pemberton was earmarked for the cash after applying to Emergency Management B.C., a provincial fund that has money set aside for flood protection programs, according to Jeff Westlake, operations manager for the PVDD.

“Every year we try to pick a project that’s important for the valley for flood protection and apply for funding,” he said. “So in this case that’s exactly what we did.”

The two locations are actually found along the Miller-Lillooet Dyke, which stretches from Miller Creek to Highway 99, according to Westlake. He said the PVDD has been fixing the dyke in three different phases — the first began in 2002, when the first portion of the dyke was upgraded, and was followed by two more phases in 2005 and now in 2008.

“This will basically complete the overall rehabilitation of that dyke,” he said. “So it’s been a bit of an ongoing process, but kind of in three different sections.”

In 2003, heavy rain produced a debris flow that saw Miller Creek flood.

“There was a large volume of gravel that washed on the creek and filled up the creekbed right up to the dykes,” Westlake said. “And then from there it flowed over the dyke.”

He said that such a flood could easily happen again, although it’s anyone’s guess when.

“We could have a flood, you know, at any point statistically,” Westlake said. “We gauge our flood protection by a 200-year peak flow event.

“Our dykes are designed for protection up to the 200-year flood, but having said that, there’s always the possibility of having a one-in-300 year or one-in-500 year. Not as likely, obviously, but that chance does exist.”

The current dyke is composed of “very poor material,” according to Westlake, while the new material is composed of 30 per cent fines, which compacts very well and turns into a concrete-like substance.

Completing the repairs will take approximately three weeks and bring approximately 800 truck loads of material to fill in the faulty sections.

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