Residents are looking for answers about perennial flooding on Martindale Road near Parksville.
“I bug highways every year to dig ditches so it would drain quicker. I had Emcon there a month and a half ago… but they said they’re only paid for four feet off the road, so it wasn’t their responsibility,” said Duane Round, frustrated by what he called years of government avoiding responsibility.
Round, spokesperson for the Martindale Residence Association, said Emcon did fill pot holes and mow and grade the sides.
Emcon is the private contractor responsible for maintaining the road — which is in the Regional District of Nanaimo, despite almost being surrounded by Parksville — on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“The only time any government says or does anything is when there’s a flood, they all go down and Joe Stanhope stands up and says ‘these are my people and I’m going to save them,’ then the water recedes and the politicians recede and you never hear from them again.”
More than two dozen emergency personnel from the RCMP and Arrowsmith Search and Rescue were called out to remove a woman from a car stranded in several feet of water during the most recent, Jan. 28 flooding, and Round said he’s worried a more serious emergency, like a heart attack, could be a lot worse when people are stranded.
He said Parrys RV Park, which often bears the brunt of flooding, has done a bunch of remediation work themselves, but as far as he’s aware there has never been government help.
“We don’t have jurisdiction to deal with chronic spots like Martindale where the Englishman River rises and runs through Parrys RV Park,” said Tom Armet, RDN manager of building, bylaw and emergency planning.
“Our role is to co-ordinate the emergency response,” he said, adding they are in regular contact with property owners in the area, making sure they are aware of the situation and helping them plan for evacuation or the ability to wait out the water. We maintain current information on those folks who choose to live in a flood prone area.”
Stories in The NEWS about Martindale Road residents requesting help from some level of government date back to at least 2005.
New RDN chair Bill Veenhof called Parrys RV Park a “bit of a unique case,” where the owner and provincial government have been talking for years and his understanding is that six residents have chosen to raise their trailers rather than move out.
There were rumours of a meeting with Parrys RV Park residents about the flooding, but The NEWS could not reach anyone involved.
Veenhof reiterated that road issues are provincial government or Emcon’s responsibility within the RDN. Residents should contact them first, “and of course they’re free to call their (RDN) area director if they don’t get any answers.”