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LETTER: Summerland neighbourhood is on a flood plain

Concerns raised about proposed development

Dear Editor:

It’s too bad that only one council member, Erin Carlson, and Mayor Toni Boot voted against the 45 house subdivision at the northern end of Trout Creek.

Toni grew up in Summerland. I came in 1965. That’s very low-lying land for the subdivision and has flooded before.

A problem in the Okanagan has been the clear-cut logging high up above the lake where people can’t see those cuts unless they fly over them with a plane. That’s exactly what the Kelowna architect and president of the Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, John Woodworth, did and wrote a booklet called “Is Everything All Right Up Here?” Well, it wasn’t and isn’t. With unpredictable climate change, we could have unexpected precipitation and flooding.

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We sponsored a big logging conference years ago with knowledgeable loggers. The problem with those large clearcuts up high on the mountains is that there are no trees to hold back the snow when there’s a rapid increase in heat and snow-melt. We saw this in 2017. That year, there was the added problem of a new person controlling the lake flow.

As you know, only two centimetres can be subtracted from the lake level per day because the outflow creek is narrow, and we also can’t flood out areas in the United States just to make everything okay up here.

Before the 2017 flood, a new person was controlling the lake level. I went to a lecture about this by the former lake-level-controller. He said that the lake wasn’t dropped low enough in fall. One thing that has also been a problem is that experiments on clear-cutting runoff had been done on flat land up until 2017, so there was not a good idea of how runoff would occur.

I have seen the proposed housing site flood before. I live on the lake, a little bit higher than that property, and in 2017, I had three rows of sandbags to protect my home, but my front yard was totally underwater as was my side yard. I had about a metre of water under my home. This was the second time I had flooding. Once, it was from rain and an underground “river” flowing from the cliff side, not from the lake.

We, in Trout Creek, are on a flood plain. No one can predict the amount of rain we’ll have in the future. Summerland and Penticton have storage dams for water, but my understanding is that Kelowna gets most of its water from the lake, so the powers-that-be don’t want to drop the lake level too low. However, this year, the lake level seems to me to be lowest I’ve ever seen it.

When was this new subdivision actually approved? I’m sorry that I didn’t pay more attention. It’s difficult for the public to be aware of important town decisions because of closed council meetings and no big public advertising on such an important issue.

Some council members have not lived here long enough to have seen the flooding on the proposed subdivision land at the north end of Trout Creek? Do some council members only care about tax money and not about good planning?

Marilyn Hansen


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B.C. Floods 2021developmentLetter to the EditorSummerland