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Drying trend should help the mess in the Nelson area

There’s not much the City of Nelson can do about the swampy mess at Lakeside Park.
Nelson's Lakeside Park playing fields are currently a swampy mess.

There’s not much the City can do about the swampy mess at Lakeside Park.

The banks of Kootenay Lake have breached in several locations, making parts of the waterfront pathway and John’s Walk impassable. Water is flowing freely onto the Lakeside playing fields, and is deep enough to paddle a canoe through.

Public works supervisor Karen MacDonald said there’s nothing her crews can do but wait.

“The water needs to go down quite a bit before we can get in and fix it,” she explained.

Last week firefighters pumped water out of the flooded parking lot next to the soccer fields to restore access to the streetcar track for Canada Day. But the results were short lived. The area flooded again the next time it rained.

“It’s not cost effective to keep brining the firefighters down there. This is a problem that will clear itself up with time,” MacDonald said.

In the meantime, flooded areas are closed to the public. The washrooms in the Tyler Lake Memorial Fieldhouse, next to the soccer fields, are also closed due to the pump system being under water.

As water recedes, MacDonald said, city crews will repair the damage. New riprap will be brought in to rebuild the banks and some of the dogwoods and other plantings that help stabilize the shoreline may also need to be replaced.

The playing fields will remain closed until they’ve had time to dry out.

“There will be some damage, obviously, from the water laying on the grass. But that will repair itself over time,” she said.

MacDonald couldn’t estimate how much the repairs would cost, though she expected it would exceed the amount regularly budgeted for flood events.

“We’re hoping the provincial government will step in and help with the cost of repairs,” she said. “This is once-in-40-years event. You can’t predict when something like this will happen.”

On July 4 Kootenay Lake reached a geotactic elevation of 1753.8 feet, and it hasn’t peaked yet. Forcasters predict the lake could reach 1754.4 feet in the coming days, surpassing the record set in 1974 of 1754.24 feet.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is working with the province to provide sand and sandbags to resident whose property is threatened by the rising water. Staging areas have been set up at fire halls in North Shore and Balfour. Elderly residents unable to pickup or place sandbags should call 250-352-8174 for assistance.

In a press release, the RDCK asked residents to only use the sandbags to protect homes and other critical structures.

“Lawns, gardens and non-essential structures should not be sandbagged due to a finite supply,” the release said.