Three sections of the Cowichan Valley Trail between Lake Cowichan and Duncan will remain closed until the spring of 2022 after major washouts during the flooding event last month.
Ryan Dias, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s assistant manager of parks operations, told the district’s committee of the whole at its meeting on Dec. 9 that the damage to parks and trails in the CVRD from the flooding in November is probably the worst the district has ever seen.
He said there were 36 storm-related incidents, including the three washouts on the Cowichan Valley Trail, documented since the atmospheric-river event on Nov. 15.
“The sites [on the Cowichan Valley Trail] have been secured with steel fencing at trail heads and users will be required to access the trail at alternate trailhead locations,” he said.
“The closure sites are large-scale washouts ranging from 10 to 30 metres wide and five to 15 metres deep, and have a total combined length of two kilometres.”
Dias said the cost to repair the three major washouts on the trail is currently unknown until the sites are properly assessed, but the overall costs for those areas will likely be several hundred thousand dollars.
The damage to the other sites include trail washouts and loss of parkland, erosion along rivers and creeks due to high-flow conditions, tree loss and exposure and damage of underground infrastructure, including underground utilities.
Dias said it has been estimated that the cost to fix the damage at most of these sites will be in excess of $2,000 each.
“The most significant impacted community park site is a trail washout at Hollings Creek Park in Electoral Area A – Mill Bay/Malahat, as there are exposed underground utilities, including a Fortis BC gas line and a CVRD sewer main that will need to be addressed as part of the repair work,” Dias said.
Dias said the overall damage is currently being assessed by civil and geotechnical engineers in order to tabulate the order of magnitude of the damage, cost of repair and remediation.
He said the next steps will be to develop a work plan to address repairs at the appropriate time of year where creek, stream, river and/or lake levels will allow for the repair work to be done.
“Work to restore Hollings Creek Park is expected to start before year-end but the three impacted locations along the Cowichan Valley Trail between Duncan and Lake Cowichan will need to remain closed over the winter and into early spring 2022, pending assessment, repair design and availability of funding,” Dias said.
Dias said the damage is uninsurable, but the district could qualify for up to 80 per cent funding, to a maximum of $300,000 per washout location, through the province’s Disaster Financial Assistance Program.
He said the district’s reserve funds could also be considered to help cover the costs.
The committee voted to recommend to the board that an application be made to the province’s Disaster Financial Assistance Program for funding to rebuild the washed out sections of the Cowichan Valley Trail, and that funding to help with the repairs from next year’s budget be considered.
Tim McGonigle, Lake Cowichan’s director for the CVRD, said the impacts of the flooding are far reaching outside the town and North Cowichan.
“The amount of people that utilize these trails is significant, whether it be walking, electric bikes, horseback or other active transportation modes,” he said.
“I hope we get the funding to get us back to a better place.”