Lakeside Park and most of Nelson waterfront could be underwater by the end of the month.
City staff are monitoring rising levels on Kootenay Lake, which could lead to the flooding of Lakeside Park’s sports fields and the waterfront pathway along Sproat Drive. The dog park next to the airport has already been flooded.
The flooding is expected to be potentially worse than in 2012, when Lakeside Park and its soccer fields were underwater and flash floods hit downtown.
“In 2012 we had the perfect storm,” said Mayor Deb Kozak. “We had vast runoff from the mountains but coupled with that we had high precipitation. If we get that mix again this could mirror or surpass what happened in 2012. So what we’re doing is keeping an eye on that.”
The city has opened an emergency operations centre in an effort to stay ahead of more flooding.
“We’re seeing a little bit of fluctuation in the predictions, which leaves us a little uncertain of how bad it might be,” said Nelson Fire and Rescue chief Len MacCharles. “We’re sort of operating on the mode it is going to meet or exceed the 2012 levels. There we have a bit of history and what took place and we can do some things to help protect against that.”
The city is also sealing off parts of the sewer system to keep storm water out, and has put sandbags down along parts of Front Street. MacCharles said the construction on Hall Street should remain unaffected.
The flooding level in Nelson is considered 534.31 metres. As of Wednesday morning Kootenay Lake was 533.09 metres high.
Craig Stanley, supervisor of parks and public works, said he will be meeting with user groups and Regional District of Central Kootenay staff soon to discuss the city’s plans for flooded fields and possible temporary relocation sites.
Stanley said the fields are already well drained, but that the closure will depend on how much the soil is saturated.
“Essentially what we do for the fields is try our best to keep them maintained without doing any damage,” said Stanley. “Pump water off if we can, depending on the situation, and then as soon as we can get the fields into shape after the waters have gone down.”
Stanley added the north section of Lakeside that features the playground and concession is likely too high to be flooded. The airport is also expected to stay dry.
The city is making sandbags and sand available under the Nelson bridge next to Lakeside Park. Residents are asked to stay away from fast flowing creeks, to monitor basements for signs of water, and to report sudden increases in stream elevation or creek debris to the city at 250-352-8238. More information and updates can be found at nelson.ca.