Some North Westside residents insist government bureaucracy has left them high and dry.
Four families in the Fintry High Farm area had their bridge and road washed out by flooding in the spring and repair work has been stalled as they attempt to get the necessary permits and disaster assistance.
“It is extremely frustrating to wait all summer for paperwork and then be told we might not even get to start before winter as we have to wait some more,” said Jason Souch, one of the residents eight kilometres from Westside Road.
“Currently, we have a vehicle on each side of the creek so we have to walk across creek and transfer supplies.”
One family has received disaster assistance, and only for their driveway, with the rest denied due to technicalities.
“When the valley was subdivided in the 1970s, easements were given for road access but none mention the bridge. We were denied as we couldn’t prove responsibility for the bridge because it’s not on our property,” said Souch.
“The landowner whose property it is on was denied as it’s not his primary residence even though his daughter lives there with her three children.”
Engineers were hired in August and reports were completed by Thanksgiving so the families could apply for a permit to fix the creek and build new abutments.
“Now we hear the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources is still so backed up it could be three to six months for a $250 permit,” said Souch.
“It is unbelievable how our province can be so behind in processing applications from the spring. If there is a disaster and people can’t get to their homes, is that not more of a priority than fixing peoples docks and beaches? Is a community that shares a bridge not entitled to some financial assistance to make things right?”
Work during the winter could increase costs because of snow.
“If we cannot repair the damage before spring runoff, we will be faced with more land loss, no access to properties and more log jams that will affect everyone down Shorts Creek, Westside Road and Fintry,” said Souch.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources says it understands the importance of access for everyone affected by the spring flooding.
“With regard to this particular application, a permit application was submitted Oct. 11, and given the type of bridge they want to build, ministry staff need to see a full design, to ensure the structure is safe and does not fail a second time,” states the ministry.
“First Nations consultation is also required. Ministry staff will prioritize review of the application.”
In terms of disaster financial assistance, Emergency Management B.C. says it provides or reinstates the necessities of life, including help to repair and restore damaged homes not land damage.
“For a homeowner, assistance is available to restore a principal residence. DFA is not intended to cover all losses. It is not a government insurance program.”
DFA has received more than 800 flood-related applications and paid more than $2 million in compensation.