Restoration work on Ellis Creek will cost $30M over decades

Creek work will cost $30M

It’s expected it will cost the City of Penticton more than $30 million to restore Ellis Creek and mitigate for future floods.

City council got its first look Tuesday at the draft master plan for Ellis Creek, presented by consultant Shawn Kilpatrick of Stantec Consulting.

He told councillors the portions of the creek east of Penticton Regional Hospital have significant challenges and are the source of the majority of the sediment that is flowing downstream, creating problems for bridges and spawning fish.

“I guess the average taxpayer is going to look at this report and say ‘what, $30 million for fish?’” said Coun. Jake Kimberley. “But it’s not just that, it’s the flooding aspect of it.”

Kimberley noted a pedestrian pathway once passed under the Main Street bridge over Ellis Creek, but has long been covered by feet of dirt and gravel coming downstream. 

During high water years of 2017 and 2018, the city was forced to remove that debris as it piled up against the Main Street bridge and access bridge to the Wholesale Club. The Dartmouth Road bridge over Ellis Creek is also having problems with erosion and had its abutments repaired last year.

“This project could take decades to do. We would be pursuing funding from various sources,” said general manager of infrastructure Mitch Morozuik, explaining upper levels of government have indicated they will not be contributing to the project in a meaningful way, but there are many conservation groups that will likely help.

The restoration of Penticton Creek, which has been completed in stages as funds can be secured from groups like the Penticton Flyfishers Club, was referred to as a model to follow with on Ellis Creek. Ongoing restoration work on Penticton Creek also has a $30 million cost estimate.

Both the Wholesale Club and hospital bridges were noted to have issues with obstructing the flow of the creek and sediment, but Morozuik said changes to those crossings shouldn’t be considered until the bridges near the end of their lifespans.

Coun. Kimberley said it could cost $10 million to replace the Main Street bridge alone should they ignore the report and more flooding occurs, putting the crossings at risk. 

The city is currently gathering feedback on the plan, which can be viewed here.

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