RDN, city downplay flood risk

Logjam on the Englishman River called possible threat to San Pariel neighbourhood

Trevor Wicks surveys a logjam on the Englishman River he says could cause flooding problems.

Trevor Wicks surveys a logjam on the Englishman River he says could cause flooding problems.

A logjam on the Englishman River has one area resident warning of the potential for a serious flood in the San Pariel neighbourhood if nothing is done.

Trevor Wicks, with the Arrowsmith Water Coalition, said the jam is located near Plummer Road across from a pump station.

“We have the potential for a major water problem in my opinion,” Wicks said. “The reason I’m concerned is because I belong to a walking group and during one of our walks along the Englishman we noticed there had been an incredible surge of water that almost went over Plummer Road. It was within 18 inches of topping over the road and we didn’t have any major storm or flood events.”

Wicks found a large stack of woody debris partially blocking the river’s flow.

“I’ve seen these before, but nothing like the one that’s there now. If we had a big rain or snow event, we could have a flood that could potentially flood Martindale Road or even Rathtrevor Beach Park.”

He said water overflowing the banks near the estuary isn’t all that unusual, but it usually happens after a heavy rain. This close call, he said, happened in the absence of that trigger.

“This is nothing like we’ve seen before,” he said, noting he has lived in the area for the past 32 years.

John Finnie, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of regional and community utilities, wasn’t overly concerned.

“We had staff from development services, along with someone from Parksville public works down there on March 30 and their assessment was that there was no apparent danger to the river intake or pump station,” he said. “The logjam is actually in the flood plain and that area, regardless, is subject to flooding. There’s a risk to Plummer Road every year and typically it does flood a little bit in some locations. The logjam may exacerbate that and cause it to back up and increase that possibility, but the evidence staff have seen now is that it’s not a concern.”

City of Parksville director of engineering and operations, Robert Harary, said he was aware of the situation.

“It’s a natural occurrence,” he said. “It’s not going to help with potential flooding, but that area is prone to flooding anyway. Those logs won’t help anything, but they won’t be the sole cause of a potential flood.”