Canada Avenue was one of several roads in the Cowichan Valley closed due to flooding last winter. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Disparaging dikes/pumping system as a failure unfair, untrue

No, we didn’t spend millions on nothing.

Yes, it works. No, we didn’t spend millions on nothing.

That was the message late last week from the Municipality of North Cowichan about its diking and pumping system, put in place after a devastating flood in 2009 that forced the evacuation of much of the neighbourhood around the Cowichan Sportsplex off Beverly Street.

The flood saw many homes left in need of extensive renovation before people could move back in.

Local governments heeded the warning and have done a great deal of work to try to make sure that while portions of the land around Duncan will never be high, they will remain relatively dry.

But that doesn’t mean that people won’t still see roads flooded in some areas, including Canada Avenue at Sherman Road, along with other well-known low spots.

It’s a case of the perils of building a community on low land — not for nothing is the Somenos Marsh adjacent to these areas. Our past hubris in assuming we can (and should) control nature, including the flow of water into these areas, has left us with what we have today. Nowadays most communities think a lot longer and harder before bringing in fill and building on wetlands. But we can’t turn back the clock.

So into the breach, our municipal governments have done a good job of preventing future catastrophic flooding.

But that hasn’t stopped some from complaining, assuming off-the-cuff that a few occasionally flooded streets during particularly heavy rainfalls is a sign of incompetence and waste by our local officials. It’s an unfair charge. If the systems that have been put in place weren’t working, or were a failure, a lot more than pavement would be underwater.

And of course there are cases where culvets and ditches get plugged and drainage backs up.

The indisputable fact is that people are not having to wade through their neighbourhoods pulling small boats filled with their worldly belongings as they did in 2009.

All we face this winter, and fingers crossed, many winters to come, is a little occasional inconvenience if a road or two is closed. We’d call that a success.

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