Central Okanagan  

Province pays for property demolition

Just who will ultimately pick up the tab for demolition of structures on the Muttitt property in Joe Rich has not been determined.

What is known is the remaining structures on the property have been demolished by the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The demolition took place over a week ago after a local State of Emergency was issued for the property along Mission Creek.

Earlier, trailers on the property were washed away by raging flood waters, sending the structures into a downstream bridge that crosses Highway 33.

That there was flooding around the property is nothing new. The property has flooded many times before - it even flooded earlier this year.

However, numerous requests to access the property by the Regional District were always refused.

"We have never been given access or permission to access it," says RDCO Communication Coordinator, Bruce Smith.

"As I said earlier this year the emergency program had approached EMBC (Emergency Management BC) and the Ministry of Environment with a question as to whether there was anything that could be done."

Smith says the answer was always no.

"We were told there was no emergency and no imminent threat. The emergency program couldn't respond because there was no emergency."

When the property flooded again a month ago, residents in the area were concerned the trailer and house could break apart and damage the bridge.

Mike Noseworthy of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, rebuffed those concerns, stating none of the structures would pose a threat to the bridge.

"They would most likely break apart, brought down stream and into Okanagan Lake," stated Noseworthy at the time.

The danger level increased to an unacceptable level after the heavy rains.

Property owner Verdelle Muttitt refused to speak with Castanet during the flooding in May.

As for the cost of demolition and clean-up of the property, Smith says EMBC will be given the final bill.

"We (RDCO) will be collecting all the invoices for the work that has been done and the costs associated with it and we will be submitting those to Emergency Management BC," says Smith.

There are provisions within the Emergency Management Act that does allow for property owners to be billed back in situations like this.

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