Clean bill of health for canal

After nearly 100 years in operation, the Town of Oliver’s irrigation canal is in pretty good shape.

A 161-page report on the canal is hitting councillors desks Tuesday, recommending town staff ramp up maintenance work by 50 per cent annually to keep the water flowing to 1,400 hectares of farmland along the canal’s 17.4 kilometre route between Vaseux Lake and Hester Creek.

The assessment conducted by Allnorth Engineering out of Kamloops concludes just 20 per cent of the canal is in need of replacement or repair within the next decade.

“The remaining 80 percent is expected to continue to function with normal ongoing maintenance,” the report states, adding to keep pace town staff should be replacing about 300 metres of canal a year.

The town is currently achieving about 200 metres annually.

“To reach the 300 m full restoration per year will be a little more challenging for staff because of extra labour required and weather conditions can delay progress,” town director of operations Shawn Goodsell wrote in a summary to council.

However, he pointed out staff will be resurfacing about 800 m of canal floor between Road 2 and 3 next year, “as this doesn't cost or take as long as a full restoration of walls and floor together.”

The diversion structure at the head of the canal also appears to be in good condition and has another 50 years in it, according to the audit.

The Town of Oliver is currently in the process of lobbying the federal government for funding to reroute the canal away from Gallagher Lake after it was severely damaged by a rockfall in Jan. 2016 and repaired with a band-aid solution.

The project will cost a little over $10 million, with the province already committing half.

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