It’s one step in alleviating the frequent flooding crisis on the Chemainus River near Westholme.
People are pleased to see some action after much discussion and several studies, with about 8,500 cubic metres of sediment from a gravel bar being removed between the Chemainus Road bridge and the E & N Railway bridge.
“The work is being funded by the Province and managed by their consultant, KWL,” pointed out North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas in a Facebook post. “North Cowichan has provided ‘in-kind’ assistance in liaising with nearby residents, documentation reviews and related support to the project.”
The Halalt First Nation is an integral part of the project, he added, supporting the work and facilitating the contract with Cowichan Valley company Stone Pacific Contracting Ltd.
“Sharing of the gravel was agreed upon with the affected landowners, resulting in about half of the material intended for municipal use and half to the Halalt,” pointed out Douglas. “The municipality will provide gravel for the future construction of temporary flood walls on Russell Farms and store the remaining gravel for future use.”
He indicated future flood walls are a temporary measure to reduce flooding primarily within the Halalt First Nation and the immediate area for common rainfall events expected.
“This would remain in place for a few years but is not intended as a long-term solution,” Douglas stressed. “North Cowichan staff are working with the landowners and consultants to agree on the location and allowing the Province to construct and maintain the temporary wall. This work is hoped to be completed this fall, given that it is set back from the riverbank.
“Some work may occur in the channel on the north side of the river, where gravel was removed last fall. This would be to make minor adjustments without disturbing the entire channel. Feedback on this work last year has been positive.”
The area frequently floods, but was particularly hard-hit twice during the last four years, including the atmospheric river event of 2021. The water level of the river is extremely low right now, making it ideal for heavy equipment to get at a gravel bar at a bend in the river and clear it as much as possible.
A provision is also being made to ensure all environmental concerns are considered with the current work being done, including salmon due to be spawning soon.