Logjams were cleared from under the Chemainus River bridge last September. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Logjams were cleared from under the Chemainus River bridge last September. (Photo by Don Bodger)

CVRD looks to move forward with flood mapping of Chemainus River

River saw historic flooding in rain event last year

Flood mapping for the Chemainus River watershed is imperative after last year’s historic flooding event, according to North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring.

Speaking at the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s regional services committee meeting on Jan. 27, Siebring endorsed a recommendation from CVRD staff that the district submit an application to the National Disaster Mitigation Program for a $473,000 grant to update flood mapping of the Chemainus River.

“Flood season is coming and we urgently need to deal with this now,” he said.

“We really want to move forward on this before we get to the next flood season.”

A Category 4 atmospheric river passed over the Cowichan Valley over two days on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2020, bringing torrential rains that flooded the region and its rivers, including the Chemainus River, causing numerous evacuations and a state of emergency to be declared by the CVRD.

RELATED STORY: FLOODS, ROAD CLOSURES, EVACUATIONS DURING WEEKEND STATE OF EMERGENCY IN CHEMAINUS

The region all around Westholme experienced extreme flooding during the event, as well as the Island Highway in the area, Russell Farm Market and the Halalt First Nation’s reserve.

In a letter to the CVRD written by Siebring on behalf of North Cowichan council, he said last year’s flood is only one example of the need by all levels of government to manage the flows related to the Chemainus River watershed, which covers a number of local government jurisdictions.

“Our staff, CVRD staff, Halalt and other senior staff from the province have been in ongoing discussions regarding this matter since the summer, and the creation of a long-term flood management plan was an outcome of those discussions,” Siebring said.

“Our staff have been collaborating with CVRD environmental services thus far to move the project along, led by the CVRD environmental services division. Further, the municipality has a Bonsall Creek watershed plan in which an early priority has been modelling of the watershed. The river and creek affect one another at high flood stage as evidenced in January 2020, warranting a combined study.”

RELATED STORY: LOGJAMS AND GRAVEL BARS THE BANE OF CHEMAINUS RIVER’S EXISTENCE

Siebring said North Cowichan has already committed $100,000 toward a combined mapping study.

A staff report by Jeff Moore, the CVRD’s senior environmental analyst, said flood mapping in B.C. has been the responsibility of local governments since 2004.

He said most provincial floodplain mapping is now several decades old and may not incorporate recent changes to river channels, nor the increased intensity of rainfall projected due to climate change.

“The (CVRD’s) environmental services division has recently completed updates to the flood mapping for several floodplains within the region, including Shawnigan Lake and portions of the Cowichan and Koksilah Rivers,” Moore said.

“A 2018 risk assessment suggested that the existing provincial flood mapping for Cowichan Lake was still reasonably accurate, given climate projections. The remaining floodplain in the region, the Chemainus River, was last mapped in 1991. As illustrated by the devastating flooding on the Chemainus River in February 2020, updated flood mapping to inform flood mitigation is urgently needed in this floodplain.”

RELATED STORY: RESIDENTS EVACUATED FROM CROFTON, ROADS CLOSED AS CVRD DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY DUE TO FLOODING

The regional services committee voted to recommend to the board that it submit the grant application for the flood mapping on the Chemainus River to the NDMP.

Alison Nicholson, the CVRD’s director for Cowichan Station-Sahtlam-Glenora, suggested that the board hold workshops on the CVRD’s overall regional floodplain management and strategies moving forward.

“Flooding will only get worse in the future,” she said. “I’m feeling out of the loop at this point.”

Cowichan Valley Regional Districtflooding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Water levels rose significantly again in early January on the Chemainus River. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Water levels rose significantly again in early January on the Chemainus River. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Just Posted

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

Beautiful flowers spring up on Thetis Island during February. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
Weather conditions cover the full spectrum in February

The only thing missing from the region was a more summerlike feel

Police are investigating after a man was killed at a home on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police investigating early-morning murder in Duncan

One arrested after man killed at Cowichan Lake Road home

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read