Chilliwack residents asking the city to back off dike upgrade

Young Road residents chipped in for legal counsel to fight the dike project they say will cause hardships and affect property values

Home owner Rene Crawshaw and his neighbours on Young Road

Home owner Rene Crawshaw and his neighbours on Young Road

Residents of Young Road are fighting the city plan to elevate the Young Road dike about a metre to bring it up to provincial flood protection standards.

Signs went up all along the one-kilometre stretch of road last weekend that read, “Stop the Dyke” or “No trespassing.”

Young Road resident Rene Crawshaw said more than 30 homeowners have chipped in to print the signs and have engaged legal counsel to file a lawsuit against City of Chilliwack.

“If you drive down Young Road now, you will see that every piece of property has no trespassing signs on the front yard in protest,” he said.

Crawshaw fired off a letter to city hall as a formal complaint against the project.

The road is set to be elevated by about 42 inches, which is a “huge” increase in front of his home, that he fears will cause more flooding, and steep grade concerns.

Young Road from Hope River to Cartmell Road has about 14 properties with challenging driveways, and steep grades, which are the cause of the drainage and flood concerns being expressed.

City council voted 4-2 last month to approve the dike upgrade, with councillors Ken Popove and Chris Kloot voting against. They pledged to find ways to “minimize” the impacts on residents.

The cost of the Young Road Dike Project is $2.1 million, with provincial and federal reps sharing it three ways with the city’s share at about $700,000.

The alternative for council was cancelling the project, which would have meant forfeiting Emergency Management BC funding, and the $150,000 for emergency upgrading materials, said staff in the report to council in February.

Crawshaw said he feels the city is “bullying” the residents to accept the project despite widespread opposition of property owners.

“Better alternatives are out there,” Crawshaw wrote in his letter to Mayor Sharon Gaetz and council. “Extending the wing dike to Chilliwack mountain. That is a true protection dike for Chilliwack.”

About half the diking system still has to be upgraded.

“So why rush and do it wrong?” he asked. “The federal and Provincial governments aren’t going to pull funding for something as important as public safety. Try harder, get creative in your proposals to get all the funding.”

City staff said council approved a plan to continue to upgrade the flood protection diking system, as funding is made available from senior levels of government. They started in the east, with the CHIP intake, the whole east dike is done, half the wing dike, and they are now working their way down Young Road.

Two meetings were held to hear residents concerns, but Crawshaw said the residents would rather council look seriously at alternatives to the planned elevation of the road.

Part of his concern is all the hedges, bushes, trees, and green space that have to be removed for this project.

“They are home to countless species of birds, squirrels, raccoons, owls, etc. Not including the potential “At Risk” species that could be living there. The displacement of this tiny eco system could have grave consequences to nature in our area.”

Discussions with affected property owners are ongoing to mitigate impacts, and reps will continue discussions with Skwah and Shxwha:y Village for longer-term strategies.

“My house and property is an investment and shouldn’t be taken advantage by the city,” said Crawshaw in the letter. “I’ve  had issues in the past with city run off flooding my property. Spending thousands trying to fix this issue.

“Now with the road being raised 42 inches I fear my property will be flooded regularly. Costing me more money and ultimately making it nearly impossible to sell my property.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/CHWKjourno

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