Work continues in the Williams Lake River Valley, leaving it closed to public access, with a goal of reopening by spring or summer 2023.
The city’s initial response to the spring 2020 flooding in the area cost $12 million and was funded by Emergency Management BC (EMBC).
Later in 2020, the city entered a recovery phase. The City of Williams Lake has approved a $7.6 million budget for the stimulus package, of which the city is contributing 20% and EMBC 80%.
The plan is made up of more than 20 individual projects.
So far the upstream end of the valley has been repaired and the bridges have been able to be reused and the damage has not been as catastrophic.
However, access to the completed area is still limited due to ongoing construction and repair work further down the valley using the public access point under Comer Street on Mackenzie Avenue, with heavy equipment and large trucks going in and out. There is access to this end available using trails from the west side of the creek below the golf course and the West Ridge subdivision, however, there is no public access from the town side to the northeast .
Ongoing work further down the valley to restore and improve bridge crossings, repair washed out roads and install riprap and armor using heavy equipment continues to make it too dangerous to reopen the area for recreation in because of the varied work and schedule.
Fourteen of the lower decks needed upgrading to accommodate a 200-year flood level.
As the installation of the bridge nears completion, grading and clearing of the approaches continues using rip-rap trucks, excavators and platforms to move materials down the valley and other work continues. will continue with the use of heavy equipment.
Operations can take place anytime from sunrise to sunset and the public should always stay clear of the area.
“They move pretty fast and they do a job, so you don’t want to be somewhere where they might not see you,” said Chad Beaulieu of TRU Consulting. Beaulieu is the contract administrator for the restoration of the river valley.
However, the salmon were able to swim up Williams Creek, as evidenced by the recent sighting of sockeye salmon in Williams Lake.
According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), these fish were likely too exhausted to make it to their original spawning grounds in the Quesnel system. Although they lack access to high quality spawning habitat in the Williams Lake system, these fish represent a return of marine nutrients to the ecosystem, providing food for local animals and forests.
River Valley roads and trails have been closed since spring 2020 after flooding devastated the Creek Valley’s fish and animal habitat, mountain biking and hiking trails, and damaged infrastructure in city wastewater.
The scenic river valley, although somewhat smelly, is popular with the community for recreational purposes, with many locals walking and biking in the area.
BC Floods 2021Outdoors and RecreationWilliams Lake