Flooding affecting local economy: Ulkatcho First Nation

The Ulkatcho First Nations is concerned with a lack of provincial and federal spending on infrastructure in their region.

The Ulkatcho First Nations is concerned with a lack of provincial and federal spending on infrastructure in their region.

On Wednesday, newly elected Chief Zach Parker addressed some of those concerns specifically as they relate to current flooding and the impact it’s having on that First Nations’ economic prosperity. In a press release the Ulkatcho First Nation reported that in the past few weeks road washouts had occurred at the approaches to Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake and within the village of Anahim Lake as well as at other locations. It further suggested there was “considerable” weakening of the banks of the Dean River  as well as threats to residential homes and businesses in the village.

Sam Ahad, general manager of West Chilcotin Forest Products, a sawmill owned by the band that employs 74 people in the community, said the mill was under duress due to transportation challenges presented by high water. Water has breached the Chilcotin highway by inches in several places, says Ahad. The “poor quality” of the existing road, in particular from Red Stone to Anahim Lake, is aggravated by the current high water conditions.

Therefore, Ahad says, the company has had to reduce its truck loads to 50 per cent. Ahad estimates this restriction has cost the sawmill $100,000 a day.

Parker said over the years there has been little investment in flood protection in the area in terms of the development of dikes or the creation of flood channels. As well, infrastructure investment has been poor.

“The flooding is detrimental to our economy,” he said. “We still have snowpack and don’t know how that will pan out.”

He added that due to high water there was an inability to access some areas of the community. One home on the Dean River is at immediate risk; several others may also soon be affected.