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REPORTING · 27th May 2012
Merv Ritchie
UPDATE - New Pictures Attached
The ‘F’ word was freely discharged during an attack on the Administration and the elected Board of the Regional District Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) Friday evening, May 25, 2012. Ken White had quite enough of listening to the excuses and proclaimed loudly if the administrator, Bob Marcellin, lived in his world he would get kick f’d. He turned to the Chairperson, Hazelton Mayor, Alice Maitland, shutting her down with, ‘don’t tell me to stop swearing’ and finally ended the outburst yelling “you guy’s are f’ing pathetic.”

Watch Video Compilation of this and Other Recent Gatherings by Clicking Here

None of this is unusual or should have been unexpected as the residents of Dutch Valley have been actively struggling to have their property protected since the major flood of 2007.

In July of 2007, just after the flood water receded slightly, the residents were teased. An excavator was brought in to dig test holes to determine the footing required for the construction of a retaining structure to contain the Kalum River through the Valley. At the time it was suggested rip rap rock would be soon arriving.

July 26 2007, Dutch Valley May Get Rip Rap Rock Yet

In September of 2007, as the river rose again, the residents were only provided the used sand bags recovered from the spring flood around Terrace. These were rotten and contaminated yet the residents all gathered to help in an attempt to protect their land and homes.

September 23 2007, Dutch Valley Deluge Round Three

In May of 2008 the flooding began again and the home owners were all beginning to take individual efforts to protect their homes; raising them, building moats around their property and bringing in their own rock and broken concrete.

May 16 2008, Flooding Begins on Kalum First

As the waters rose in September of the same year the community members attended the RDKS board meeting and an equally acrimonious exchange occurred. Once again director Alice Maitland fired back against the outbursts delivered to the board and administration, that time by James Wold.

September 21 2008, Feathers Ruffled at RDKS

In June 2009, as the waters were once again rising, long stretches of hand built dykes were constructed by the residents. These were successful in preventing major erosion in the areas they were constructed.

June 4 2009, Kalum River Breeches its Banks

At the same time, as the flooding was threatening homes the Provincial Emergency Program was able to release monies to have a large engineered project started. This “engineered” project began at the south end and was intended to work north to the major bend in the Kalum River where it was eroding the banks taking a massive quantity of land and trees.

June 7 2009 First Rocks Arrive in Dutch Valley

June 8 2009, Kalum River Rises as Dyke is Constructed

As the water receded the funding was stopped. Today this “engineered” structure sits in the middle of trees no where near to any water and the erosion at the bend in the Kalum continues.

During the summer of 2009 the RDKS followed through with the commitment to provide a municipal water system for the residents of Dutch Valley, part of a multi million dollar project, which included North Terrace and Brauns Island.

September 30 2009, Water System Extension Under Budget

Throughout 2010 the Kalum River worried its way through most of the remaining trees at the bend sending them downstream along with acres of farmland. This left nothing to restrain the river in 2011.

In the beginning of June 2011, the Kalum River took the last of the trees and made it’s first foray inland directly towards; the inland homes, the road and the new million dollar water system infrastructure. Highways trucks arrived to add material to the height of the road and the residents suspected they were doing this in advance of the obvious flood waters coming.

June 21 2011, Dutch Valley Residents Should Prepare for the Worst

In September 2011, the soft sandy grazing land remaining was completely saturated providing a clear picture of what was coming this year. The water of the river was forcing itself directly east. Nothing remained and nothing was placed to restrict the force of the raging current of the Kitsumkalum River.

September 12 2011, Dutch Valley Will Likely Become Flood Zone This Fall

It is now approaching June 2012, a full 5 years after everyone, the Province, the Regional District, the Engineers and the residents were fully and completely apprised of the impending disaster about to befall the district. There were no funds made available to anyone to do anything to prevent this except the Provincial Emergency Program in 2009, which resulted in the construction of something, not completely useless as it can be used, but something which was an entire waste of money. There was however a million dollars made available to bring more water to Dutch Valley, that which will soon be seen floating past highway 16 at the confluence of the Skeena and the Kalum Rivers at Fishermans Wharf just west of Terrace.

In March 2012 the residents appeared on mass at the RDKS Board meeting and vented their frustration at the elected members and the administration. In April the RDKS, along with the Provincial Emergency Program representative Maury Hurst, held an information seminar at the Terrace Arena. The RDKS wanted to see the residents commit to paying for the entire project. Signatures were collected at this gathering and another resident went about collecting more.

At the April 2012 board meeting the signatures and petition were presented to the RDKS.

Friday evening, May 25, 2012, the tempers flared. The RDKS board and administration stated they were doing all they could. It is obvious to all observers of this situation there is a complete breakdown between concepts and reality in this situation. Conceptually, using an engineers drawings and plans; conceptually spending a million dollars on a water system, compared to the reality of witnessing the trees and land wash down the river with the reality of the river determining a new path through the entire valley washing away a dozen homes.

There is no avoiding the truth. The governmental body of the RDKS was completely ineffective in preventing this tragedy. They attribute the blame to having no funding from the Provincial government, “We don’t have a pool of funds to draw from”. Yet they had a million dollars to provide a new water system. Had they actually asked the residents, each, individually, their decision on how to spend a million dollars might have been much different. The RDKS administrators claimed they canvassed the property owners on the cost of constructing a dike years ago but none of the residents at the various meetings claimed to have ever been contacted.

As Directors, Councillors and Administrations of government leave their offices at the end of the day or leave for the weekend, residents are left to worry all night long, 24/7/365. When the Dutch Valley homes are gone, the residents livelihoods drowned, washed down the river towards Prince Rupert, many others will be able to drown their thoughts with their remote control in front of their big screen TV or laugh with their children at the Ice Arena.

No one in Dutch Valley is laughing about this today.

In 2007 everyone knew. In 2008 everyone was reminded. In 2009 the RDKS listened to the engineers and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2010 everyone ignored their embarrassment and spent a million dollars on new infrastructure for Dutch Valley. In 2011 the Kalum River saluted, blew a trumpet blast of charge. In 2012 the entire region of Terrace will witness what five years of arguing with governments will get you.

It should not be forgotten, the residents of Dutch Valley will still be obligated to pay for their lost million dollar water infrastructure in their lost property tax bill.

The board room did not believe swearing at them was necessary.

Watch a video compilation by opening the attached file below the following pictures or Click Here to watch it on Vimeo

Open the attached pictures below to see in larger scale.
A overview of the present situation.  Note the Kitsumkalum rock quarry with the highest quality rock (CN is their customer) is right across the river.
A overview of the present situation. Note the Kitsumkalum rock quarry with the highest quality rock (CN is their customer) is right across the river.
An overview picture taken September 2011 looking south
An overview picture taken September 2011 looking south
Picture of the erosion at the corner of James Wolds property on May 25, 2012, looking north
Picture of the erosion at the corner of James Wolds property on May 25, 2012, looking north
A google maps image from September 2009 showing the recently constructed dike foundation running through the middle of the trees
A google maps image from September 2009 showing the recently constructed dike foundation running through the middle of the trees
In response to James.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 30th May 2012
Without getting into the debate on what has happened in Dutch Valley, I do take issue with some of James’ comments. He says, “When I purchased my home it was in a Gov't approved subdivision. It was declared a Flood Plain by the Dave Barrett gov't after a devastating flood.” At one time subdivisions in rural areas were approved by the Ministry of Highways - not the best ministry to be making decisions on whether land was suitable for housing. I assume then since it did flood, declaring it a flood plain was proven valid. The “flood plain” designation was to protect land owners and potential buyers that these low lying areas were part of a flood plain designation and might not be suitable for some uses. Once you bought a piece of property, you could not be prevented from building a house on it. I do recall having discussions about flood plain designations with the government officials when I was on Council after 1976. It is interesting that the notion of floodplain designation has not been repealed in all these years so I assume that even the Social Credit Government felt there was validity in keeping the public informed. The fact that Dave Barrett may have introduced it as part of the ALR is irrelevant. It has not been changed for almost 40 years.

James also says, “This is also a gov't of the same stripe that told us they would never help us again. So much for compassion from the left.” I think this statement is completely false. Unless he can verify the same or tell us who said it, he should retract it to save himself some credibility.

Tampering with the natural flow of a river is always risky. The hydrology of rivers is complicated. Do something to stem the flow or direct it into a narrower channel and you create a problem further downstream. A good example is the disaster of all the bridges that washed out on Highway 16 in the late 70’s. This is why government agencies always seem to favor emergency response rather than prevention. Prevention work on a river carries with it further liability and they can not always predict where the consequences of a change in river flows will manifest itself. Flood plains act as reservoirs during heavy run off. Dikes channel the water and it flows through faster and can do damage further downstream.

That is not to say that people should not lobby hard or work to protect their property as much as possible. But saying something as ridiculous as “The fault lies with the citizen who live in a left wing gov't declared floodplain.” doesn’t make any sense or add to the debate.
open invitation
Comment by James Wold on 29th May 2012
Good morning Roy Harding you have shown a interest in this issue by taking time to write your views which I appreciate. I would like to invite you to drop in anytime and I would be glad to show you around and give you a update on what is happening down here. This invite also goes out to anyone interested in finding out the true facts. This also includes the many board members on the reg. dist. who have never been down to see what the problem is and yet they are the ones who make the final decision on,if we get help or not, mostly NOT.

My address is 4501 Bohler rd. on a fence post at my driveway

At the board meeting May 25/12 , I was told that waiting 10 years for help was not a long time. I don't know what planet they live on with only days left to flood time.

spring of 36
Comment by Terry on 29th May 2012
Flood damage Terrace-Kitwanga area: The Skeena suspension bridge No. 97 had the crib around its north end abutment partially washed away. At Kitsequecla, the temporary Indian bridge went out. The road just past the Kitsequecla village was completely gone for a distance of a mile (1.6 km). The north tower of the Kitwanga Ferry moved and the landings were damaged. The ferry house with all its contents washed away. Bob Burton, the ferryman, was in the house cooking breakfast when he felt the house shake. Thinking an earthquake caused it, he left the house. The building was then lifted off its foundations and floated down the Skeena River. Local resident Kathy Johnson remembered seeing the ferryman’s house float by her father’s place at Cedarvale. Smoke was still coming out of the chimney when the house passed by (Gottesfeld, pers. comm.). The ferryman’s personal loss was $20. The Cedarvale Slough bridge went out. The Cedarvale Ferry sustained only light damage. The ferry house lifted and floated amongst the trees. Pacific got flooded and lost the bridge across the slough behind the station and the old ferry buildings. The Usk Ferry cable between the anchor and the tower on the south side broke. A new cable was required. The total cost, including the salvaging of the old cable, was estimated at $250.
A portion of the trestle approach on the south side of the Terrace main bridge was damaged and lost. Four of the timber spans and the approach of the bridge went out. Damage to the Terrace bridge was estimated at $3,000, including the installation of a temporary catwalk. On the Remo road, on the south side of the Skeena River, six bridges were damaged. The access to the south bank of the Skeena River, including the Lakelse Valley was cut off. The Remo ferry lost its wind tower and basket tower on the south side and its north-end tail cable. The main tower on the south side was undermined and had to be moved back. The basket tower on the north side needed to be straightened. The riverbank washed in between 50-100 ft. (15 and 30 m). On the south side, about 400 ft. (120 m) of road along the bank was washed out. Both the Zimacord bridges No. 1 and No. 2 went out. The road from the Zimacord to the ferry was also gone. The Thornhill bridge on the Lakelse Road got slightly twisted. It needed straightening for a total distance of six spans. A small bridge at the Copper River ferry floated out of place. The powder house floated about 100 ft. (30 m) off its foundations. The cost to repair the north side of the Copper City Ferry bridge was estimated at $500, and another $500 to repair the road. The estimated cost to move the Copper River City bridge back 900 ft. (270 m) was $750. The bridge to the Copper City ferry went out.
The Braun’s Island bridge required two new spans and some piles replaced. The repair cost of Braun’s Island bridge and approaches was estimated at $2,000 and $300 for road repair. The road from the Copper Ferry to Dobbies Crossing was wiped out. The south side riverbank just west of Skinners Store washed out over a distance of approximately 600 ft. (200 m). The cost estimate for road and bridge repair in the Skeena District as per June 13, 1936, was: roads, $3,450; bridges, excluding the Driftwood bridge, $15,755; and ferries, excluding the Remo Ferry, $2,100. Total cost was $21,305. The bridges included Remo, Terrace, Thornhill, Smithers, Canyon Creek, Porphyry Creek, Hazelton, Nine Mile, Kispiox, Seventeen Mile, Hankin, Mero Creek, Palletti (Kitwanga), Shandilla Creek, Meanskinisht ($7,000), Fiddler Creek, Pacific, Usk Foot Bridge, Braun’s Island, Bridges on Kitsumkalum Road, Hall Creek, and Driftwood.
flood plain
Comment by Terry on 29th May 2012
queensway is also a flood plain . they now have a chance to not be flooded and washed away . if I were jacked around the way we have watched the people on some of the best bottomland in our area down in valley . I would be screaming and swearing at much higher volumes at those poor people at the ksrd . and folks lets not forget that the new bridges now have a causeway across half of the skeena river flood plain . when we have the next big flood the likes of the one that few are still alive to remember . You won't need a log jam . because you now have the biggest dyke or should I say causeway. the walmart parking lot is also a flood plain.
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 29th May 2012
James , ,you never miss an opportunity to bash the NDP do you. maybe karma is coming back to haunt you.
Mr Peters
Comment by James Ippel on 29th May 2012
In short, Bugger Off. When I purchased my home it was in a Gov't approved subdivision. It was declared a Flood Plain by the Dave Barrett gov't after a devastating flood.
This is also a gov't of the same stripe that told us they would never help us again. So much for compassion from the left.
In 2007 we would not have had flooding but for the log jam against the CN bridge spanning the Zymacord River. They parked loaded grain trains on the bridge to prevent damage, but the force of the water moved the bridge and they had to remove the logs. The difference in water level upstream of the bridge was 3 feet higher than downstream of the bridge. Who is at fault here? Surely not CN. They answer to no one, not even God. The fault lies with the citizen who live in a left wing gov't declared floodplain, and please don't give me this bunk about a "200 year flood plain. " This is a nice term spawned by someone who got his knowledge from a book, and lacks common sense and practical knowledge.
How do you feel about the people who live on Halliwell Avenue and got their basements flooded a few years ago? The don't live in a flood zone-but I'll bet you expect they should get help. How about the people right in Terrace who got flooded a few years ago? They should be helped to shouldn't they?
It is just those of us who choose to live in a rural setting, never expecting to be flooded, but nature chose different.
Just keep your comments in mind when you sit in your comfortable pew.
Normally, I'd Agree ...
Comment by Roy Harding on 29th May 2012
... with Mr. Peters.

But in this particular case - and my knowledge is limited to what has been published on this website - it appears that folks were promised relatively inexpensive action, then they agreed to pay for action themselves, then that action DIDN'T take place, then the problem got LARGER, and now it's become a HUGE problem.

Aside from driving by Dutch Valley on my way into town, I'm not terribly familiar with it. I'm a relative newcomer to the area (been here since Dec 06), but it appears to me that while the Kitsum Kalum may have been relatively stable in its course in the past, since '07 it has moved significantly. The course change appears to be what threatens the folks who live there - despite past history of relative stability.

Again - I'm only going on what I've read here, and I'd normally be in agreement with Mr. Peters - but this seems to be a case of government delays, which have made what SHOULD have been a relatively easy (and cheap) resolution of the problem into a major (and expensive) resolution - which STILL hasn't happened, despite the residents earlier willingness to pony up for the easy (and cheap) solution.

Now, should someone build in Dutch Valley today - Mr. Peters and I would be in complete agreement. But for those who were there prior to '07 - I'm not so sure.
Here we go again
Comment by Mr. Peters on 29th May 2012
You build a home in a river bed, and then surprise the river floods, did not see that coming. Now, you want the tax payers to pull you out of trouble. Sorry, this is one taxpayer that would just love to see the powers-that-be fill stand up and tell you to bug off. If you build in a yearly flood zone you should not expect to get hand outs.
Now Nothing Will Get Done! More Government Involvement!
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 29th May 2012
We have just been advised the environment ministry and the department of fisheries and oceans have been notified after we published this story. They will likely put a stop to any work during high water as they, (as "engineers") believe the work cannot be done without disturbing the river too much. A reasonable person could look at the overhead (google image) and see the river has completely changed course during high water many times in the past five years. One would have to ask, how much more disturbance could an excavator and rock trucks make?

But leave it to governments with their staff and administrations, they would rather show how much clout they have and stop the protection (letting even more disturbance happen such as septic fields, houses and vehicles floating down stream) than just step aside and let real people take care of real problems.

Lets do another study first. There must be another high profile firm that will take a hundred grand for another year long study.

In 2003, at Barriere BC (north of Kamloops), there were at least five fires. All but one were put out by men working in the bush at logging camps. The only one that got away and destroyed the homes and Mill was the one mangaed by the BC Forest Service. A couple years earlier Salmon Arm narrowly averted complete destruction as the Fly Hills fire, started by a lightening strike, was left to burn to use as a training excercise for the BCFS Rap attack crews. Dozens of homes and hundreds of acres of forest lay decimated.

But we must follow directions regardless of how ill informed the governments, staff and administrations are. As for most engineers, all they know how to do is "engineer" more work. Every working man and woman, the ones on the working end of a shovel, understands this fact. University boys and girls are not worth much until they have worked a dozen years with real men and women.

Comment by Diana on 29th May 2012
Yup that pretty sums that up. .. and if you follow the history back further the story is even that much more evident. Flooding in all regions of Terrace is not a new story but remains an undealt with issue for over 75 years and impacts on more than 200 homes. 200 tax paying homes...
Where there is a will there is a way to deal with this.
My worry is the will ..
Comment by James Wold on 28th May 2012
Sometimes a thank-you does not seem to be enough when I see the hours you have put in to this story over the last 5 years, good honest and fair reporting. You have provided a service free of charge to all the families living in Dutch Valley and I for one appreciate it very much. You are truly an amazing person. This story really does hit the nail on the head. We need more people like you in this town to make Terrace a better place to live .
Comment by citizen123 on 27th May 2012
The Administrator is a master of excuses and doer of nothing. People are about to loose their homes maybe the administrator should loose his job. I have been following this and he has never given these poor people options and just covers up his ineptness with a giggle and a shrug. What are our tax dollars paying for a one man show. This is no laughing matter Mr. Administrator.