Bladder dams have been installed along Mill Creek to prepare for flooding. - Credit: City of Kelowna

Bladder dams have been installed along Mill Creek to prepare for flooding. - Credit: City of Kelowna

Resident concerned with impact of flood mitigations on wildlife

A Kelowna resident, who lives near Mill Creek, is worried about the animals that live in the area

A Kelowna resident is concerned about the impact Mill Creek mitigation efforts are having on the surrounding wildlife.

Bladder dams, sandbags, tree thinning and brush removal is currently being conducted along the creek, which is the main focus of the protection measures, according to a City of Kelowna news release.

“The whole reason trees were being cut down is so the dredgers could get at the creek, but it could have been done by hand,” said Dee Holt, who lives near Mill Creek.

Dee Holt saw a baby beaver waddling along Bernard Avenue. Work was already underweight at Mill Creek, which she noticed the next day.

The trees are another concern for Holt.

“It was full of nesting birds, you know, thousands and thousands of them. Why this wasn’t done in the fall?” she said.

She’s concerned animals may be harmed in the process.

Permissions from the Ministry of Environment are required for this kind of work and they haven’t been granted in decades.

“What changed was last year we had a significant flood event and it was realized that one of the contributors was a lack of channel capacity,” said Alan Newcombe, the city’s director of infrastructure.

Newcombe said an environmental assessment was conducted and an environmental monitor was on site. Trees were also selectively cut down and some were left with nests.

“The trees were cut down for more than one reason. They were cut down because in themselves they were causing a backlog of water, so other sticks and debris would get caught on the trees. The second reason why we took some of the trees out, they were taken out to assist with the dredging from the mouth of the creek to the Abbott Street bridge.”

Screens were also put in place to protect fish while the dredging took place. Beavers were not seen in the creek, nor did crews locate any beaver dams, but some blockages were removed, said Newcombe.

“A berm is being created near Spencer Road to protect it and Mill Creek Regional Park from high water, while sandbags and bladder dams line the creek intermittently from north of the Kelowna International Airport to Okanagan Lake,” said the city’s news release.

“Other improvements are in place along Mill Creek to protect infrastructure near Kelowna International Airport and near the Central Okanagan Hospice House.”

Mill Creek isn’t the only area where flood mitigation measures are being taken as water levels noticeably rise. The Regional District of the Central Okanagan sent out a press release assuring area residents that there are no imminent threats of flooding in the Central Okanagan electoral areas.

An isolated overland flooding issue in the Valley of the Sun subdivision that flooded in the past is being monitored. Depending on the weather, the risk of above average creek levels and potential flooding could rise given the higher than average snowpack at the mid and upper elevations, said the regional district release.

Those living near creeks, streams and low-lying properties that have had flooding issues in the past are reminded that they are responsible for having an emergency plan as well as the tools and equipment necessary to protect their properties from possible flood damage, said the release.

— With files from Kathy Michaels

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