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Plugging the dike

Cowichan officials walk toward the bus along the Mission Road dike during a Wednesday tour showcasing the community’s $9.5 million dike improvement project. - Kathy Santini
Cowichan officials walk toward the bus along the Mission Road dike during a Wednesday tour showcasing the community’s $9.5 million dike improvement project.
— image credit: Kathy Santini

Nearly $10 million in improvements will significantly reduce the chances Cowichan will see a repeat of the disastrous flood of 2009.

That was the message from officials Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new York Road pump station.

“This will protect us from a flood like we had in 2009, which was a one-in-seven-year event,” said Rob Hutchins, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s chairman.

“This project significantly gives us a much larger scale of protection than we’ve had before. It’s the first time we’ve had such a systemic development in place to prevent a one-in-200-year flood in our community.”

In November, 2009, 237 people in the Duncan area were impacted by flooding; the cost of the immediate response was about $1.5 million.

The cost of follow-up prevention measures to protect local residents from a repeat totalled $9.5 million.

“Congratulations to all our partners  in the successful completion of this significant flood protection initiative,” Hutchins said. “Our communities are that much safer because of your efforts.”

Cowichan Tribes, the federal and provincial governments, the City of Duncan, the Municipality of North Cowichan and the CVRD each contributed to the expanded and repaired diking system built to provide greater protection against flooding in the area east of the Trans-Canada Highway.

It was also built to withstand projected increases in precipitation, which many say is a result of global warming.

“Hopefully, we won’t experience a flood again like the flood of 2009,” Hutchins said.

All of the speakers at Wednesday’s event commented on how the different bodies worked together to get things done.

While the new diking was being built, the CVRD, thanks to a $1.13-million grant from the province, has also been working on developing a long-term planning strategy for the Cowichan and Koksilah flood plains. Of particular concern is the amount of sediment and log jams that occur in the rivers, in wet years and dry, and their impact on fish.

Kate Miller, manager of the CVRD’s environmental initiative division, said it’s expected the report and its recommendations will be tabled this winter, with the CVRD’s board.

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