Okotoks flood bill reaches $4 million
Flood 2013: Town looking to provincial disaster program for help
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
The bill for flood damages to Town-property and infrastructure has been tallied and it’s going to be costly for Okotoks.
The Town is estimating the June 20 flood caused $4 million in damage and it is looking to the provincial government to cover the tab under its Disaster Recovery Program.
Mayor Bill Robertson said Okotoks saw a substantial amount of damage because of the flood, but it was largely limited to the river valley.
“In my years in town, this is absolutely the most significant damage, in my opinion,” he said. “But, there was no loss of life and people’s homes were not destroyed.”
The amount only covers damage to Town property and infrastructure, not private property.
The Town compiled a list of 16 repair projects needing to be done. The biggest bill will go to repairs to Sheep River Park, which is expected to cost $1.6 million.
Necessary repairs include removing gravel left behind in the park, rebuilding the riverbank, Spoiler’s Field baseball diamond, the cook house and picnic area and the pathway between the Woodhaven stairs and the Laurie Boyd Bridge.
Other projects include $450,000 to replace one water well lost to the flood, $300,000 to rebuild all pathways lost to the flood, $342,000 for repairs to the Okotoks Lions Campground and $300,000 to repair erosion along the Sheep River east of the Okotoks Public Library.
Robertson said the river valley, and all the associated amenities, are popular with residents, but they’re also in a position to be damaged during a flood.
“Then when we have a major flood, those Town facilities get damaged and it costs us money to rehabilitate them,” he said.
The Town has already submitted its application for funding to the provincial government and it has asked for at least half of the funding up front.
The Town has already started to make repairs to flood damaged infrastructure. So far, $340,577 has already been spent on flood-related repairs and projects in Okotoks, including rebuilding riverbanks.
Robertson said the Town has used its reserve funds to pay for work done to date.
“We’re going to only do the things that absolutely have to be done at this time,” he said. “When it comes down to public safety, we have to. When we have chunks of pathways that are out totally then we have to rehabilitate those pathways.”
Municipal manager Rick Quail said the Town is optimistic the provincial government will cover flood damages.
“Yes, we expect full funding support for these damages,” he said.
The Town is also asking the Province to pay for two proposed projects to protect against future flooding that are estimated to cost $870,000. The projects include work to stabilize the riverbank in the Lineham Avenue area, which is expected to cost $570,000 and $300,000 to remove gravel bars from the main channel of the Sheep River.
Quail said the Town has sought provincial support for the two mitigation projects in the past and has been turned down, but he is hopeful they will go ahead this year.
The Town doesn’t have a timeframe for when the work will be completed.
However, Quail said it’s anticipated the important pedestrian corridor between the Woodhaven stairs and the Laurie Boyd Bridge will be restored before school starts next month.
He said the timeframe for getting the work completed will depend on the availability of contractors.
According to Quail, the Town was able to get some contractors lined up to start working on projects that needed to be done soon after the flood, but the challenge is to keep them around as projects are completed and others await the green light.
He said it will be important to get funding approved by the provincial government so the Town can secure contractors to start working on projects quickly.
“If we lose them because we don’t have funding approvals then it’s going to be hard to get them back so a timely response by the Province is going to be important,” said Quail.