Excessive rainfall has led to rising river levels in Castlegar and the surrounding area, causing havoc on properties near the water.
The wet conditions have caused the city of Castlegar to cancel their annual Canada Day celebration, which was set for Sunday at the Castlegar Community Complex.
The event, which was to have featured a barbecue, live entertainment, games and activities, cake, and a 40′ screen playing The Lorax, is re-scheduled for July 22.
“It’s officially postponed,” said councillor Kevin Chernoff. “It’s been cancelled due to the weather. There are a couple of factors. One is that even if it quits raining, the field is too wet. It’s the type of event where you throw a blanket down and watch the movie. We just can’t see it happening. Today it’s not raining, but we’re supposed to go right back to the same weather we had. Second, if we cancel now there’s no charge to move the date. If they came here and it was raining and we canceled, there’d be no refund.”
Chernoff said the call to cancel the popular celebration wasn’t easy. “It’s a call no one wants to make,” he said. “We’ve struggled with a few of these outdoor events like this. It’s not something we look at lightly. But it’s just not feasible this weekend. So we’ve moved it to July 22, hopefully the weather is better by then.”
B.C. Hydro put out a press release on Wednesday reminding residents to be mindful of higher than normal flows when planning activities near the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers.
“Snowpack, rainfall, and runoff conditions in the Kootenay and Columbia systems have been much higher than normal this year,” said Mary Ann Coule, community relations for B.C. Hydro. “We are monitoring the reservoir levels and flows closely and coordinating the systems to meet Canadian and U.S. flood control objectives. Upstream reservoirs (Kinbasket, Arrow, Duncan, Koocanusa) are being refilled to reduce downstream flooding impacts. We are also working closely with local agencies and municipalities to address issues around high reservoir and lake levels and high flows.”
As of Wednesday, June 27, the Arrow Lakes Reservoir elevation is at 1440.6 ft and rising at a rate of 0.4 ft per day. The discharge from the Arrow Lakes Reservoir continues to be approximately 55,000 cubic feet per second.
B.C. Hydro is working with the City of Castlegar to manage potential damage to municipal infrastructure resulting from high flows, including erosion around the sewage lagoons, said Coules. At Mayor Lawrence Chernoff’s request, flows from the Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam will be held at current levels until the concerns regarding the sewage lagoons can be addressed.
“We’re trying to hold water back,” said Chernoff. “We’re looking at the river levels still rising. It’s still coming down from the mountains. What we have is that everything is full. The rivers are full and now they have to climb up the banks.”
The mayor, who has lived in the area his whole life, says that the Columbia River is at the highest he’s even seen.
“The volume is absolutely full,” he said. “It’s just horrendous how high the water is. I can tell you it goes back to the ’60s when there was no dam. This is just incredible.”
Chernoff says they won’t know the extent of the damage until the water level drops. “Now, it’s really hard to tell,” he said. “What you have is water in places where you wouldn’t normally see it.”
City crews are currently monitoring water levels and checking the Robson lagoons for signs of instability, said Chernoff.