British Columbia

Christy Clark earmarks $65M for flood mitigation, asks for more federal money

Premier Christy Clark says the province has earmarked $65 million for flood mitigation efforts this year while on a tour of B.C.'s Peace River region following destructive floods there.

'Climate change is having a big impact and so we have to adapt,' says B.C. premier on flood tour

B.C. Premier Christy Clark toured flood-ravaged Dawson Creek on Sunday, June 19, 2016 and said the province will spend $65 million on flood mitigation. (Brett Hyde/CBC)

B.C.'s premier says $65 million has been earmarked to deal with flood mitigation in the province, which she says is the biggest amount ever spent in B.C.

The announcement came as Christy Clark toured flood-ravaged parts of northeastern B.C. on Sunday. Clark said that more needs to be done in preparation for extreme weather, which she says is part of climate change.

"Really we have to, across Canada, get used to the fact that weather events are getting more extreme, climate change is having a big impact and so we have to adapt," she said while also calling on the federal government to contribute more money.

Flood warnings for communities in northeastern B.C. have been downgraded as water levels recede. More than 100 millimetres of rain hit the Peace River Region last week, causing flooding that destroyed roads, bridges and homes in several
communities including Dawson Creek and Chetwynd.

While officials showed Christy Clark the flood damage to Dawson Creek, the B.C. premier called on the federal government to spend more money on mitigation for the effects of climate change. (Brett Hyde/CBC)

The province has issued disaster financial assistance to help homeowners, residential tenants, small businesses, charities and local government clean up and repair damages in the aftermath.

Although conditions are improving, the BC River Forecast Centre says residents should continue to avoid waterways and potentially unstable riverbanks. 

More than 400 properties were impacted and half of those were cut off by floodwaters.

Reg Whiten's property survived the flooding but just barely as access to his home was washed out.

Reg Whiten's home in Moberly Lake, B.C. near Chetwyn was luckily not destroyed by flooding which did cut off access to his home. He says he's never seen rain like which fell during the middle of June, 2016. (Brett Hyde/CBC)

"I had a bridge here, a beautiful steel bridge," he said. "It was railway steel that it was built on [but it] didn't last after the major events here the last few days. A lot of the water was actually coming off some of the neighbouring cliffs which is unheard of in anybody's living memories." 

Clark says reconstruction work in the area will have to be done to higher standards with help from the federal government.

"Mitigation is better before the fact than trying to fix it after a bridge falls down," she said adding that the last time she was in B.C.'s Peace region a month ago, the area was facing massive wildfires.

"So the previous federal government raised the threshold for eligibility, they've reduced the amount of money available overall, so they need to fix both those things, and I would argue what we need is more money before the floods and before the fires happen so that the cleanup and the impact is lessened."

Life is getting back to normal in places like Dawson Creek, B.C. after flooding, but the impact of more than 100 millimetres of rain can still be seen. (Brett Hyde/CBC)

with files from Canadian Press

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