Flooding 2017  

West Kelowna opens parks

The City of West Kelowna has opened up several parks that have been closed the past few months due to flood concerns.

Parks have opened as crews remove sandbags and other flood mitigation resources from those areas.

Those now open, include:

  • Paddlewheeler Park – Pritchard Drive
  • Pritchard Park – Pritchard Drive
  • Aberdeen Park – West Bay Road
  • Casa Loma Dock
  • Willow Beach – Gellatly Road
  • Marina Beach – Gellatly Road
  • Pebble Beach – Whitworth Road
  • CNR Wharf – Gellatly Road
  • Rotary Beach – Gellatly Road
  • Gellatly Landing Park – Gellatly Road
  • Casa Rio Park – Casa Rio Drive
  • John Dupuis (Casa Loma) Boat Launch – Casa Loma Road
  • Gellatly Boat Launch – Gellatly Road
  • Casa Loma Waterfront Access – Casa Loma Road (south)

Currently, sandbag removal is being undertaken in the Green Bay, Pritchard Drive and Gellatly Road/Whitworth Road areas of West Kelowna. Work will resume in Casa Loma early next week.

Residents who are undertaking their own sandbag removal on their property can assist by moving their bags to the roadside for pick up and disposal. Please separate burlap and polypropylene sandbags.

While numerous parks are open, a handful remain closed. These include:

  • Jennens Park – Jennens Road
  • Hitchner Park – Jennens Road
  • Gellatly Walkway – Gellatly Road
  • Beechnut Park – George Court
  • Hazelnut Park – Whitworth Road
  • Heartnut Park – Whitworth Road

Lake continues steady fall

As cleanup efforts continue along the shores of Okanagan Lake, the level of the lake continues its steady fall.

The lake receded another 1.5 centimetres over the past 24 hours. It now sits at 342.804 metres above sea level.

That's still about 32 centimetres above full pool.

North in Kalamalka Lake, the level dropped 2.2 centimetres to a level of 392.053 metres above sea level.

While the level dips, efforts continue to remove large pieces of debris left behind by the massive surge of water seen earlier this spring.

A barge will be in the Lake Country area today removing large chunks of unnatural debris such as pieces from broken docks, garbage, trees and stumps.

The barge will make its way to the Westside Road area Friday.

A separate contractor will begin a similar process along Wood and Kalamalka lakes next week.

Property owners along the waterfront are reminded they are responsible for the collection of small pieces of debris from their property.

Those pieces can be placed in yard waste bins for collection, as long as they meet the yard waste criteria.

Sandbags no longer required for flood mitigation can be left at the end of driveways for pickup.

Click here for more information concerning flood mitigation and debris removal.

Flood review requested

The City of West Kelowna is calling on the provincial government to conduct a flood review following this spring's emergency.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, council unanimously agreed to ask the province to review all possible factors leading to the flooding and mitigation efforts.

Council asked the review look at eight specific areas, including:

  • the timing of the spring freshet in relation to the release of water from the Okanagan Lake system at various dams
  • the need for additional data collection stations related to weather, snowpack and streamflow
  • climate change impacts and freshet management
  • fishery needs
  • flood plain building
  • upland logging impacts
  • the banning of power boats during times of declared state of emergency
  • the capacity of municipalities and first nations to respond to emergencies.

Politicians and residents alike up and down the valley have also called for a review of how Okanagan Lake levels were handled this spring.

However, the man at the controls of the dam in Penticton stated more than a month ago that review was going to happen regardless.

“After any extreme event, be it wildfire, be it a flood year or drought year, when all is said and done, we go back and we look and go over our decisions,” said Shaun Reimer, public safety and protection section head with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Smoke from controlled burn

Residents along the Ashcroft Reserve should expect to see smoke over the next few days.

BC Wildfire Service crews are conducting controlled burnoff operations.

The goal is to slow the growth and spread of the fire and to set up a safe area where crews can work.

Large smoke columns may be visible over the next several days. Burnoff operations will  bring in aircraft support.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Ashcroft Reserve fire covered about 10,600 hectares.

There are 190 firefighters on site along with eight pieces of heavy equipment, air support, an Incident Management Team and additional support staff.

The public is reminded that the Ashcroft Reserve fire is still classified as "out of control". 

Information about evacuation alerts or orders can be found here

Flood alerts rescinded

As lake levels lower and flood risks lessen, evacuation alerts for several properties in Lake Country have been rescinded.

These include properties from 3210 to 3387 Clement Rd., 11871 Highway 97 and 15770 to 15970 Oyama Rd.

Meanwhile, Okanagan Lake continues its descent toward normal summertime levels.

The level of the lake fell another 2.1 centimetres over the past 24 hours. It's now at 342.819 metres above sea level.

That's about 34 cm above what is considered full pool, 342.48 metres.

Kalamalka Lake also dipped 1.7 cm since Tuesday morning. It's at 392.075 metres above sea level. That's about 38 cm above full pool.

As the lakes lower, the job of cleaning up from the flood and high water levels continues.

Contractors are removing, and lowering flood mitigation measures such as sandbags and bladder dams from areas where the flood danger has passed.

A barge is also travelling along the foreshore cleaning up unnatural materials such as broken docks, barrels, garbage and large stumps and trees.

These are being removed from public areas and in front of private property. The barge is in the McKinley Landing area today and will reach lake Country Thursday.

It will then swing around and concentrate along the Westside Road area.

Another contractor will be doing the same in areas of Kalamalka and Wood lakes next week.

Barge helps pull flood debris

As the level of Okanagan Lake slowly recedes to normal full pool levels, the removal of flood mitigation materials continues.

As BC Wildfire Crews wrap up their work before redeployment to fire ravaged areas of the province, local contractors will pick up the slack, removing sandbags and lake debris.

Property owners along the waterfront can continue to remove flood mitigation measures, but are reminded to ensure flood walls are 60 centimetres above the current lake level to protect against wind and wave action.

Sandbags no longer in use can be brought to the street for pick up and disposal.

Large chunks of unnatural debris are also being removed with the assistance of a barge. These include broken docks, unregistered boats, garbage, barrels, large trees and stumps.

While this type of debris has already been removed from most beaches and parks, the barge is collecting materials from areas in the south end of Kelowna and will hit McKinley landing later in the week, then across to Westside Road.

Similar recovery efforts will begin next week on Kalamalka and Wood lakes.

Small, woody debris on private property is the responsibility of residents to remove.

They can be placed in yard waste bins, provide they meet regular yard waste provisions.

Time to get on with summer

As Okanagan Lake recedes toward its normal summer level, at least one Kelowna councillor believes it's time to enjoy the lake again.

Coun. Brad Sieben told his fellow councillors Monday there aren't as many people out on the lake enjoying the water as there should be.

Lake activity has been curtailed as officials put out continuous warnings to "slow down" on the water, and "go wake free."

"The no-wake thing is key," said Sieben, "but in the middle of the lake, we can get on with summer."

Sieben said he met friends from out of town on the weekend who were wondering just what they could do on the lake.

"You see our lake right now, how few people are on it. These are folks wondering if they can still paddleboard on it, that sort of thing. I think it's important for everybody to know it's time to get on with summer."

Sieben said the only problem he was aware of on the weekend was a commercial operator buzzing the shore near where he docks his boat.

He says if people are respectful on the lake, there's no reason they can't enjoy the water as they normally would.

"Certainly, you can use your boat, but do it in a respectful way, which people should do all the time anyway."

Okanagan Lake is less than 40 centimetres above its normal summer full pool level. That's expected to be reached by early August.

By then, beaches and parks will all be open, and lake operation will be back to normal.

Lake drops another 1.9 cm

The level of Okanagan Lake took another significant dip over the past 24 hours.

The lake level fell 1.9 centimetres. It now sits at 342.841 metres above sea level.

Kalamalka Lake has fallen 3.7 centimetres and now sits at 292.092 metres above sea level.

Both, however, remain well above what is considered normal full pool for this time of year.

Removal of flood mitigation barriers is continuing throughout the Okanagan in areas where the flood danger has diminished.

BC Wildfire crews who have helped with the set up, and removal of sandbags and other flood protection, will be leaving the area for redeployment to one of several wildfires burning out of control in the province.

A barge is also moving along Okanagan Lake, picking up large pieces of debris from waterfront areas.

The barge will work in the south end of Kelowna today around Bertram Park and is expected to work in the McKinley Landing area tomorrow.

Time to go home...for some

The Okanagan Indian Band has lifted a number of evacuation orders that were put in place weeks ago due to flooding however not everyone can go home yet.

The residential land at the north end of Okanagan Lake was one of the hardest hit flood areas in the Okanagan Valley.

Approximately 200 residences, both permanent and seasonal, were evacuated as floodwater covered neighbourhoods and leached into homes. Up to 400 residences are reported to have been damaged by flooding.

On Saturday, the OKIB rescinded two evacuation orders and partially rescinded five other orders, leaving some residents out of their homes for longer.

Meanwhile, the OKIB is holding a townhall meeting Tuesday at Head of the Lake Hall, 118 Head of the Lake Road, 6-7:30 p.m.

The agenda includes state of emergency orders, rescind of orders, rapid damage assessment, disaster financial assistance and flood damage debris and sandbag removal.

As well, a group called Samaritan’s Purse Canada is sending one of its specially-equipped disaster relief units to band land in response to the flooding.

“Our field teams have been assessing the situation to gather information about the damage, and we are in contact with churches, municipal officials, and other non-government partners in the area to provide a coordinated response,” said Tammy Suitor, with Samaritan’s Purse.

The Christian relief and development organization's staff will meet with local homeowners and recruit and train volunteers.

The units are tractor trailers outfitted with essential disaster recovery equipment including generators, pumps, hand tools and safety gear for volunteers. They also serve as volunteer coordination centers, and are equipped with a self-contained office, communications system and other supplies.

“We are thankful that Samaritan’s Purse has offered to help us recover from this flooding,” said Colleen Marchand, the OKIB's Emergency Operations Centre director. “This is a difficult situation for many of our residents and having an organization here, with a lot of experience in disaster relief, will make a positive difference.”

Lake levels fall 1.3 cm

The levels of both Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes have fallen 1.3 centimetres over the past 24 hours.

As of early Friday morning, the level of Okanagan Lake sat at 342.914 metres above sea level.

Kalamalka Lake was pegged at 392.140 metres above sea level.

However, both lakes still remain more than 40 centimetres above full pool.

It will be another month before both are at their optimum levels.

Crews throughout the region continue to work on breaking down flood barriers along lakefront areas no longer at risk of flooding.

More beaches and parks could be opened in time for the weekend.

Any announcements concerning more openings will be made by each jurisdiction later today.

Boat launches at Gellatly Bay and Casa Loma in West Kelowna are scheduled to reopen next Wednesday.

Information pertaining to what is, and is not open is available on each municipality's website.

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