Flooding in Parksville: ‘Enough is enough’

Residents want decades-old problem fixed now; RDN rep cites jurisdictional challenges; relief money available for victims

In the 72 years he has lived on the shores of the Strait of Georgia near French Creek, Joe Stanhope says he has never seen a tide surge and flooding like the region experienced last week.

However, this is nothing new to the people who live in Parry’s RV Park off Martindale Road on the banks of the Englishman River — seemingly every time there’s a heavy rain, there’s flooding.

“Enough is enough and families can’t go through this,” said park resident Marilyn Mitchell. “It’s an ongoing problem in this area and nothing is being done about it.”

“The RDN told us in 2005 it was the provincial and federal governments’ responsibility to put a better berming system up,” said another park resident, Donald Lohvin. “I think they (the RDN) kind of shifted the blame. It would be nice if they raised up the road and put some better culverts in.”

Stanhope, the chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board of directors and the RDN representative for the area that includes Parry’s Park, acknowledged in an interview late last week as the waters receded that something has to be done to better protect those residents.

“Every time it rains we can’t be putting people’s lives and property in danger,” said Stanhope. “I don’t know what we (the RDN) can do, what authority we have, but we have to do something. Martindale Road is in my area and I’m going to deal with it.”

Stanhope said RDN staff make periodic visits to speak with the park’s owners. He also said a berm failed this time, creating serious flooding that forced evacuations.

Stanhope also said there are jurisdictional and zoning bylaw issues with that particularly property, which borders both the river and the City of Parksville boundary.

Dealing with a property on the river, less than a kilometre from the estuary, might bring into play both the provincial and federal governments, said Stanhope. He also said the land where Parry’s RV Park stands pre-dates zoning bylaws and might possibly be “grandfathered” from rules and regulations that could be enforced on other lands that fall under the jurisdiction of the RDN.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell was asked for her comment about the flooding last week and what could be done going forward.

“As bad as it was to see flooding in this area again, I’m so thankful for first responders and groups like Arrowsmith Search and Rescue for quickly and efficiently helping everyone who was affected,” said Stilwell. “I’ll be discussing the flooding issue in more detail this week with local government leaders and see what options are being developed to alleviate the problem on Martindale Road.”

Said Mitchell, the park resident: “Whoever is responsible, get it done.”

On Saturday, the provincial government said financial assistance is available for victims of the recent flooding. Residents of Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the RDN are eligible.

The province said assistance is available to home owners, residential tenants, small business owners, farmers, charitable organizations and local government bodies who were unable to obtain insurance to cover these disaster-related losses. Applications for DFA must be submitted to Emergency Management BC (EMBC) by Mar. 12, 2015. British Columbians can access the DFA application form at: www.embc.gov.bc.ca/em/dfa_claims/dfa.html.

ALSO see EDITORIAL: Parry’s insanity, in the Opinion section of this website and on page A10 of Tuesday edition of The NEWS.