Municipalities across the Saanich Peninsula continue to assess the damage after rainfall damaged roads, flooded buildings and stressed sewer systems.
“It is too soon to know what damage may have been caused by the rainfall event but it appears that Sidney fared relatively well,” said Randy Humble, Sidney’s chief administrative officer. “Most issues related to flood damage can likely be resolved using our existing operational budget.”
Humble said earlier crews have been monitoring flood-prone areas in Sidney while checking pump stations to ensure water is draining as well as possible.
One of those areas is around Reay Creek, as the path along the creek and bridges across it were among multiple intersections, pathways and sidewalks experiencing flooding Monday.
“High water levels damaged one of the bridges in Reay Creek Park, and that section of the trail will remain closed until repairs are made,” said Humble Tuesday afternoon. “We do not yet have a date and estimated cost for those repairs.”
He also had some good news. He said staff have been monitoring Reay Creek Dam and it appears to be functioning as intended. “It was designed for water to overtop the dam crest during an extreme rain event,” he said. “Water levels have not reached that point.”
In North Saanich, crews continue to monitor the situation at Chalet Road, after Chalet Creek washed out a portion of the road.
Britt Burnham, Central Saanich’s manager of community services, said Tuesday morning assessment of damages will begin this week. One of the hardest-hit areas in the community is the area of Lochside Drive and Wakeman Road near the east-facing shoreline of Central Saanich but other parts of Central Saanich including Saanichton also suffered damages, she said.
The building housing Municipal Hall, as well Central Saanich Police Services and Fire Station 2, is one of those damaged buildings. “The building was built in the mid-1960s … and both the hall and sewer system are reaching the end of their useful life,” Burnham said.
Damaged locations inside include council chambers, so council and committee-of-the-whole meetings will be held virtually for the time being.
Burnham said Tuesday afternoon municipal staff worked through the night and the priority remains supporting residents and cleanup efforts on roads and in parks.
“One of Central Saanich’s primary focuses was supporting the Brentwood Bay sewer system, which was dealing with extremely heavy inputs,” she said, adding the municipality employed three pump trucks to ease pressure on the system.
The story was similar in Sidney, where the municipality encouraged residents to limit domestic water use on Monday as the sewer and storm drain systems were nearing capacity.
The storm also draws attention to the state of local infrastructure and its resilience in the face of climate change.
Burnham said Central Saanich is updating its asset management plan this year in setting up the district’s infrastructure for the future. This planning also includes financial planning for future improvements to the sewer system in Brentwood Bay and other infrastructure.
Humble said Sidney is currently in the process of updating its climate action plan. “The plan will include an overview of climate risks the (municipality) faces such as increased intensity of rain and will address ways the (municipality) can improve resilience to those risks,” he said. “It will also outline ways the (municipality) and community members can participate in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Humble added the updated Official Community Plan will likely also include general policy on planning for adaptation and longer-term climate change impacts like sea level rise in relation to new infrastructure projects.