Cold Spring Creek debris trap. Photo courtesy RDEK.

Cold Spring Creek debris trap. Photo courtesy RDEK.

RDEK boosts funding for Fairmont debris flow mitigation project

An additional $2.5 million in funding has been approved by the Regional District of East Kootenay for the Cold Spring Creek Debris Flow Mitigation project in Fairmont.

The funding increase was a response to rising construction costs and inflationary pressures that have strained the current project budget, which had been set at $8.8 million.

MacKay Contracting came in at the lowest bid, with $10.7 million.

“The construction tenders we received were all over budget and the project team has worked hard to streamline costs and look at other potential funding sources; however, that left us with insufficient funds to complete the mitigation works,” explains Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok. “I am deeply grateful to my fellow directors for recognizing and appreciating the urgency of approving these additional funds for this critical project.”

The majority of the project is grant-funded, while the additional $2.5 million top-up will come in the form of $1 million from the Fairmont Flood and Landslide Service Area and $1.5 million from the province’s 3.6 million Growing Communities Fund contribution to the RDEK.

The RDEK board is still considering how to best allocate the remainder of the Growing Communities Fund.

The Fairmont Flood and Landslide Service Area contribution will be achieved through short term borrowing, which will be repaid by temporarily ceasing contributions to reserves and increasing taxation within the current maximums permitted under the bylaw.

Approximately $150,000 has already been contributed from the Fairmont Flood and Landslide Service Area.

In order to help manage cash-flow, the RDEK board also approved short-term borrowing of $9 million from the Municipal Finance Authority. While the project is largely grant funded, the RDEK will pay for the work up front, then submit claims to the province for reimbursement, which can take several months to process.

As the RDEK accesses required funding, it can be immediately pay down the loan once the reimbursement from the province comes in.

Preliminary work has already started on the Debris Flow Mitigation Project with construction of an access road and clearing; however, the major portion of the construction is anticipated to begin this summer.

In very general terms, the project will see the construction of a deflection structure and inlet ramp, a barrier and debris basin and an outlet channel in order to mitigate dangers from debris flow events from Cold Spring Creek caused by the spring melt or extreme precipitation.