As Cache Creek deals with another flood threat, more than two months after first putting properties on Evacuation Alert, the Village has received word that it has been awarded nearly $200,000 in grant funding for debris flow management along Old Cariboo Road.
The grant comes via the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream, part of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The federal and provincial governments are contributing $115,337 and $76,891 respectively for the project, which will cover 100 per cent of the anticipated cost.
The work will be for improvements to Old Cariboo Road, including regrading approximately 170 metres of road, the installation of culverts, and bank restoration and erosion protection. Most of the work will be concentrated along the portion of road adjacent to the Riverside mobile home park, south of the post office, which has been severely impacted by flood and rainfall events in the last five years.
“The main reason we’re putting those works in place is because of the Riverside mobile home park and the very steep gully across from it,” says Cache Creek Chief Administrative Officer Martin Dalsin. “The culvert there is in a very shallow ditch, and directs water underneath the road into the Bonaparte River.
“We used to just get water down it, but we now get debris as well. Because of the steepness of the hill and the shallowness of the ditch the silt, sand, and gravel stops when it hits the mouth of the culvert and plugs it. The engineers assure me that no matter what size of culvert is there, it will get plugged, so the only way to deal with it is to redirect.”
Mayor Santo Talarico says that the flash food of May 2015 spurred a discussion about what should be done about Old Cariboo Road and the culvert near the Riverside park.
“We sought funding to proceed with mitigation efforts so we don’t have another episode like in 2015, 2017, and 2018. We have to deal with what the future holds, how weather patterns are changing, and how the wildfires of 2017 influence what we’re experiencing today.”
Part of the work will be to re-slope Old Cariboo Road so the road grade slopes away from the Riverside park towards the hillside, meaning water will be redirected back toward the ditch at the base of the cliff and away from the park. A swale (dip) will be put across the road to the south of the Riverside driveway, to redirect water overland and into the Bonaparte if and when the culvert (which is not being replaced) blocks up.
“Right now the low point of land is at the mouth of the driveway, so any flows not handled by the culvert go right into the park,” says Dalsin, adding that if water is running high in the swale then the road might have to be closed. “In a heavy rainfall event we’re having to close the road now, and keep it closed until we can get cleaned up. This will mean we won’t end up with debris on the property.”
The bank restoration and erosion protection will include rip-rapping the riverbank on the west side of the Bonaparte south of Riverside. Dalsin notes that there has been a lot of bank loss this year.
“It’s been horrendous. Lots of new sandbars are developing, but we can’t do anything unless there’s an imminent threat to Village infrastructure. If something falls in the river and blocks it, or it’s anticipated that it will block it, we can get Emergency Management BC approval and deal with it.”
Dalsin adds that the swale south of the Riverside park will also be armoured with rip rap. “It will basically keep it from becoming a major ditch.”
He says that the work should go some way to assuaging the concerns of residents of the park, which has been hard hit in several rainfall and flooding events.
“We’ve been getting pretty heavy mud flows into the park. There’s no way of absolutely, for all time stopping this from happening, but [the work] will go a long way to minimizing this down the road.”
Talarico says that a lot has to be done before work on the project can start.
“We would hope to have this in place for next year, but we have to have other government agencies sign off on the work, then there’s the tendering process, and then actual construction. Hopefully we can accommodate it, but archaeological finds have delayed the bridge [across Cache Creek east of Quartz Road], and we might have that with Old Cariboo Road.”