Recent weeks of intense rain in Kitimat meant the riverbank along Radley Park continued to get hammered, but the District of Kitimat still believes the overall trend of the river is away from the camp.
That means that while some land was washed away in recent high waters, there’s not a great concern there will be any more campsites lost, said the Director of Leisure Services.
“In the last four weeks or a little longer we’ve had significant rain falls,” said Director of Leisure Services Martin Gould. “There was a period of time where the water raised significantly at Radley Park. We did lose a section of the riverbank to the river. To be perfectly honest it wasn’t all that unexpected that that small section may disappear.”
Staff have since looked at the riverbank and are still convinced the river for the most part has straightened out and will be going in a direction along the riverbank rather than cutting in.”
The island directly in front of Radley Park is also growing, he said, leading him to feel the river is, generally, directing more to the other side of the river, which is good for the District’s water in-takes, he said.
As for the studies the town has commissioned for the river, Gould says their conclusions are ultimately “no guarantees. The river can make up its own mind and change direction any time it wanted.”
If the Kitimat River had a sustained high water lasting months, which Gould said could happen, the town may stand to lose a lot more of the park.
“It’s very hard to determine where the river is going to go at this point in time. Their [engineers] opinion and ours is the river is straightening out in front of Radley Park.”
Gould said the recent loss of land did not result in any loss of campsites.
Could Radley Park be protected? Yes, but it’s a very complicated process.
Gould reminded council of studies done approximately eight years ago when land first started disappearing in to the river and a plan was optioned to put up rip rap — basically stone reinforcement on the river bank — but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in consultation with the Haisla determined that would not work, because downstream changes to the river from the rip rap could make the District of Kitimat liable.
“If that course of the river affects something down stream…they’re going to point right back to us and say you [the District] are responsible.”
The town could also dig a trench and install rip rap as a protection in case the river erodes far enough back to reach it, but it also could make them liable once the river changes due to that reinforcement.
Mario Feldhoff suggested that Kitimat’s new council could look back at the engineering reports for Radley Park and see how the river has since changed and possibly revisit the idea of installing protective measures to guard against further loss of park land.