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Sicamous council dredges up $10,000 for channel study

Sicamous council will fund an approximately $10,000 study, organized by the Sicamous Narrows Environmental Enhancement Society, to look into dredging the channel, which has been discussed around the table for the last few years.

Posted on May 15, 2024

Sicamous council entered into a funding agreement to explore dredging the channel, after an extensive conversation to answer questions and concerns.

At the May 8 council meeting, the Sicamous Narrows Environmental Enhancement Society (SNEES), with assistance from the Sicamous Development Corporation, submitted a funding request to enter into Phase 1 of a project to address dredging in the channel.

“We have had talks with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and we’ve had talks with Navigable Waters (Transport Canada),” SNEES representative Todd Kyllo said. “And both are receptive to dredging the Sicamous Narrows. But we need to do a little bit more studies.”

Kyllo added there have been a lot of studies done in the past, and they want to combine available information into one platform. To do so, they would have environmental professionals Western Water Associates LTD (WWAL) go through it all and determine the framework for an environmental study to address gaps in data, outdated information and regulatory requirements. That study will identify the aquatic habitat in the narrows, and determine the potential impacts of dredging.

The request included a quote and budget from WWAL of $10,671 to address the dredging needs, and asked for some funding support from the district to help offset costs.

“All of the membership of SNEES is putting in funding, so there’s going to be a bank account… but we’re just starting… we know we’re going to have to put in more funding, but we’re looking to partner with the DOS on the dredging portion of it,” Kyllo said.

“We need to clean it up and make it a better fish habitat than it is.”

Mayor Colleen Anderson added this is also about flood mitigation, as the big push for dredging first started a few years ago when the channel flooded, impacting nearby businesses and condos.

Coun. Malcolm Makayev was hesitant about providing funding, but suggested council provide a letter of support that would “go a long way in getting some grant money to do this.”

Coun. Gord Bushell, however, was fully onboard with the project.

“I really support anything we could do to enhance the channel. I mean, every community has a dream of having a walkway and a beautiful, vibrant… working channel,” he said, and asked staff if there’s any money set aside or available to contribute.

Chief financial officer Bianca Colonna confirmed they had earmarked $10,000 for the channel in the 2024 budget, with an estimated $6,000 for exploring a head lease and $4,000 to explore dredging. That, she added, had come to the February finance committee meeting.

Despite having the funding already set aside, Coun. Ian Baillie wasn’t ready to commit to SNEES.

“I guess I’m a little worried about… this is public money going to a group that I guess was shot off of the development corp,” he said. “Which is totally fine… but I thought that it was going to be more getting the private interest together rather than coming back to us asking for funding.”

If council was to enter into this long-term project, he added, they would need a much more concrete plan in place, with more information. Kyllo, however, pointed out this is just the first step, and they can’t develop a more detailed plan until these studies are done and they know what DFO and Transport Canada require.

Coun. Siobhan Rich agreed that dredging is needed, but pointed out she and other members of council don’t know anything about SNEES, who’s on the board and how they got voted in, and wanted more information before committing to anything. Coun. Bob Evans, however, pointed out they’re just spearheading work that has already been discussed for years.

“This isn’t anything new… even if you hadn’t formed a society I would want to spend that money that we’ve got earmarked for a dredge study to get this going because it needs to be done, we all know it does.”

Bushell agreed, saying that the “Sicamous municipality was probably going to be doing this anyways, so I support it.”

As a compromise, Evans suggested a motion to embark on a co-funded co-study with SNEES, with council providing up to $5,000 and the society the rest.

“It’s not blowing our budget and it’s something that we want to do anyway…,” he said. “And I’m not the only counsellor who agrees with that.”

Despite her earlier hesitation, Rich amended the motion to provide the whole $10,671 requested, saying “if we’re going to do it, let’s get it moving.”

The eventual motion agreed to funding the full amount to the qualified consultant directly, with SNEES then coming back to council with a final report on the findings next steps.


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