VIDEO: Access to Williams Lake River Valley still restricted due to ongoing construction

The sign at the top of the road leading down into the Williams Lake River Valley saying the area is closed to the public is still in effect due to ongoing construction traffic. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)The sign at the top of the road leading down into the Williams Lake River Valley saying the area is closed to the public is still in effect due to ongoing construction traffic. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
A rock truck moves material up and down the Williams Lake River Valley as ongoing restoration work is expected to continue into the spring or summer of 2023. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)A rock truck moves material up and down the Williams Lake River Valley as ongoing restoration work is expected to continue into the spring or summer of 2023. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Natalie Swift, recovery coordinator, from left, Chad Beaulieu, contract administrator for the river valley with TRU Consulting, and Jeff Bernardy, engineering technologist with the city of Williams Lake all stand at one of the completed bridges in the upstream end of the Williams Lake River Valley. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Natalie Swift, recovery coordinator, from left, Chad Beaulieu, contract administrator for the river valley with TRU Consulting, and Jeff Bernardy, engineering technologist with the city of Williams Lake all stand at one of the completed bridges in the upstream end of the Williams Lake River Valley. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
A rock truck crosses a bridge in the Williams Lake River Valley on Sept. 9, 2022. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)A rock truck crosses a bridge in the Williams Lake River Valley on Sept. 9, 2022. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
A dead sockeye salmon lays at the bottom of the San Jose River near the Onward Ranch after making its way up the Fraser River to Williams Creek and through the lake. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)A dead sockeye salmon lays at the bottom of the San Jose River near the Onward Ranch after making its way up the Fraser River to Williams Creek and through the lake. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Work continues in the Williams Lake River Valley, leaving it closed to public access, with a goal for reopening by spring or summer of 2023.

The city’s initial response to the spring 2020 flooding in the area cost $12 million and was funded by Emergency Management B.C. (EMBC).

Later in 2020, the city moved into a recovery phase. The city of Williams Lake approved a $7.6 million budget for the recovery plan, of which the city contributes 20 per cent and EMBC provides 80 per cent.

The plan is made up of more than 20 individual projects.

So far, the upstream end of the valley has been repaired and the bridges were able to be reused and damage was not as catastrophic.

However, access to the completed area is still limited due to ongoing construction and repair work further down the valley which uses the public access point below Comer Street on Mackenzie Avenue, with heavy equipment and large trucks moving in and out. There is some access to this end available using trails on the west side of the creek below the golf course and West Ridge subdivision, however, there is no public access from the city side to the northeast.

Ongoing work lower in the valley to restore and upgrade bridge crossings, repair washed-out roads and install rip rap and armouring using heavy equipment continues to make it too hazardous to open the area back up to recreation due to the varied work and schedule.

Fourteen of the lower bridges needed to be upgraded to accommodate a 200-year flood level.

While bridge installation is nearing completion, grading and cleaning up of the approaches continues using both rock trucks, excavators and flat beds to move materials up and down the valley and further work will continue with heavy equipment use.

Operations can take place anytime from sun up to sun down and the public still needs to keep out of the area.

“They move pretty fast and they’re doing a job, so you don’t want be somewhere where they might not see you,” said Chad Beaulieu of TRU Consulting. Beaulieu is the contract administrator for the river valley restoration.

Salmon however, have been able make their way up Williams Creek, as evidenced by the spotting of sockeye in Williams Lake recently.

These fish were likely too played out to make it to their actual home spawning grounds in the Quesnel system according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Though they do not have access to high quality spawning habitat in the Williams Lake system, these fish do represent a return of marine nutrients to the ecosystem, providing food for animals and the local forests.

The river valley roads and trails have been closed since the spring of 2020 after floods devastated the creek valley’s fish and animal habitat, mountain bike and hiking trails and damaged city wastewater infrastructure.

The scenic, though somewhat smelly, river valley is beloved by the community for recreational purposes, with many locals walking and cycling in the area.

Read more: State of emergency declared in Williams Lake due to flooding, erosion in River Valley



ruth.lloyd@wltribune.com

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B.C. Floods 2021Outdoors and RecreationWilliams Lake