The new Fairmont flood and landslide service area is now official, after the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors voted at their most recent meeting to amend a bylaw and expand the two existing flood and landslide services areas in the community into a single larger one.
“The key to the success of this project was the communities support and engagement. The community was willing to create a service area for all of Fairmont, not solely those living on the creeks, which gave the RDEK the ability to raise funds through property taxes to help with the mitigation measures to limit the impact of future events,” regional district Area F director Wendy Booth told The Valley Echo.
The bylaw amendment was voted on during the RDEK board of directors’ June 6th meeting, and the proposal for the expanded service area came after two consecutive years of significant debris flow or flooding in late spring or early summer in the area.
“As result of the debris slide in 2012 on Fairmont Creek as well as flooding on both Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek in 2013, I felt it was important to address these creeks. In addition we had creek assessments completed that found that the creeks had ‘abundant’ and ‘unlimited’ amount of sediment still to come down, given the right climatic conditions,” said Booth.
The service area will result in a maximum tax rate of 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed residential property value (to raise the money needed to fund flood and debris flow mitigation work in the new service area), but the actual tax rate is expected to be 13 cents per $1,000 of assessed residential property value, RDEK chief financial officer Shawn Tomlin had said at an open house on the issue in March.
The mitigation work being done stems from the creek assessments, which contained a number of recommendations to be implemented in three or four phases during a period of years. The first phase finished in April 2013. The second phase, which will be funded through the new service area, is set to begin this winter and involves measures such as channel widening and rock armouring.
Booth has previously said she thought it unfair for the cost of the mitigation work to be borne only by the two previous service areas, which were both comparatively, small, when the whole community of Fairmont benefits from the work.
Public feedback at the open house meeting in March was strongly in support of creating the new service area.