Cache Creek mayor John Ranta.

Cache Creek mayor John Ranta.

Cache Creek still faces flood issues, says mayor

John Ranta also talks about the landfill, changes at the village office, and a new strategic plan.

“Every year is a good year in the Village of Cache Creek,” says mayor John Ranta cheerfully, when asked by The Journal if 2016 was a good year. However, his voice turns serious when he notes that part of 2016 was spent in continued efforts to recover from the disastrous flood of May 2015.

“Most projects that were funded by the province have been completed,” he says. “One project we are looking to complete is ditching above Valleyview Drive. The previous ditch there was constructed prior to the establishment of the village [in 1967], so there is no easement, no records, and the province’s Disaster Financial Assistance program will not cover it, as it’s allegedly not covered by the program.”

Ranta estimates that the necessary work will cost the village around $80,000. There is no current timeline for the project.

However, he notes that a provincially-funded engineering study regarding Stage Road should be complete, although he has not yet seen the results. The study was commissioned to see what could be done to stabilize Stage Road in future, in light of the damage it suffered during the 2015 flood.

He adds that the provincial government also supported restoration of Cache Creek park, which sustained extensive damage during the flood, but says work there is ongoing. “There are still some damp spots when it rains.”

The passing of councillor Herb Hofer in April was “shocking,” says Ranta. “He appeared to be very healthy. Everyone was saddened and shocked by the speed of his decline.”

He adds, however, that new councillor Wendy Coomber is settling in very well. “Having attended almost all Cache Creek council meetings, she was aware of the issues, and was an immediately contributing member of council. It would have been much more challenging for others than for Wendy, coming in in the middle of a term.”

Talk turns to the Cache Creek landfill, which Ranta says is “a very big thing”. [At the time of the interview, an operational certificate for the landfill extension had not been issued; it was subsequently issued on December 15, 2016.] He notes that an appeal of the closure period plan of the existing landfill was lodged by the Greater Vancouver and Sewerage District, a local board of Metro Vancouver, the landfill’s chief user until summer 2016.

Higher than expected levels of chloride in leachate from the site—the result of unsuccessful treatment of fly ash—means that groundwater mitigation, including wells, will have to be done, to ensure that contaminated water does not get into water sources.

It is estimated that this groundwater mitigation of the site will cost some $6.75 million, which is the responsibility of Metro Vancouver due to the nature of its contract with Wastech.

“I suspect the motive for the appeal of the CPP is to avoid putting groundwater wells and treatment of the leachate,” said Ranta. “I hope the appeal is not successful. We have taken Metro Vancouver waste since 1989, and thought we had a good relationship with them. The appeal puts that relationship in question.”

He notes that 2017 will mark the 150th anniversary of Canada—“A county we’re all proud to be citizens of”—as well as the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Village of Cache Creek, and the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, of which Ranta was recently re-elected chair. “Cache Creek will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. We’ll be putting together celebrations.”

He notes that the last 18 months have seen a turnover in senior village staff. “On May 23, 2015 the flood happened, and on May 29, 2015 chief administrative officer (CAO) Dan Plamondon left. Melany de Weerdt [who took over as CAO] was the right person at the right time. She did an excellent job dealing with the province of B.C., and made sure everyone did their job. Staff were really stretched with all that had to be done.”

Keir Gervais replaced de Weerdt as CAO in fall 2016, while chief financial officer Sheila McCutcheon is in her second year with the village, and Shane Billy recently took over from Steve Peacock as village foreman.

“It’s been a transitional year in the Village of Cache Creek,” says Ranta, “but I’m optimistic that the senior staff we have now will create stability.”

Looking ahead to 2017, Ranta notes that council provided direction to staff for a strategic plan with a work plan attached to it, to achieve the goals of the strategic plan.

“It’s a worthwhile exercise, to take the time to make the strategic plan current, and make sure that the issues addressed in it are in the community’s interest. And the strategic plan has to result in the implementation of that plan.”