Too costly to sandbag

The City of Vernon has not and will not be sandbagging public beach access sites at the north end of Okanagan Lake.

On the weekend, the city was criticized for not sandbagging public areas while nearby beachfront residents struggled to protect their property from flooding.

Mayor Akbal Mund said there is no infrastructure to protect along the beaches and the operation would be too costly for the city.

“We don't have any infrastructure to protect,” explained Mund, who surveyed the lakefront on Monday. “There's no infrastructure that's going to be damaged so there's no cost to the taxpayer. It would be a tremendous cost if we started bagging every lake access point we had within our community. As long as it's not affecting infrastructure we don't need to protect it.”

On Lakeshore Road, one family has battled for three weeks to save their property on two fronts – Okanagan Lake and Vernon Creek. Now they are using sump pumps and moving items out.

Kim Henderson said she has been in contact with city staff and can't understand the lack of effort.

“The most frustrating part of watching this occur for us, living down here, is the city is our source of information and they've made it very clear that we need to continue to protect our property from the rising flood waters and yet I don't understand why they are not doing anything on their property, even sandbagging,” Henderson said. “There are homes on our street that are close to or beside existing public access beaches that have no protection yet they are doing everything in their power to protect their own properties.

“You can see as the lake rises that it's breaching the city property here as well as down the road.”

Photos show about six inches of water in Henderson's backyard, now lapping at a retaining wall the family has built around the house.

Mund said he took a look at the land and checked city maps.

“It falls under the riparian area so that's not under our jurisdiction. We do own a part of that land (but) we found a lot of that property isn't in the city, it's actually Crown land towards the lake. They could put bags along our property, that is fine, but the big issue is near the lake and that belongs to the Crown. They need to speak to the province.”

Both city staff and the mayor repeated information that has been issued on the website and the Emergency Operations Centre.

“We can supply the sand and the bags. Owners are responsible for their own property and we tell them 'take whatever precautions you need to protect your own property',” Mund said.

A city press release issued Monday stated approximately 100,000 sandbags had been issued to residents over the past few weeks.

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