An increase in incoming flood recovery and resilience funding from the Province has allowed the City of Merritt to order a $329,000 flood-hazard mapping study and develop new flood-mitigation plans, with some residents concerned this could mean relocating or re-building in a different location.

The new study, which the City aims to have completed by mid-June, will determine where diking systems and other flood mitigation efforts will be carried out. Some residents in flood affected areas are concerned about being able to rebuild.

“I understand the concerns of the citizens. We’re saying to them that this dike could be wide or it could be short,” said Mayor Linda Brown.

“We can’t tell people to build and we can’t tell them not to build. We’re kind of in a bind. We’re hoping to have this study done by mid-June and have a town-hall or open house so individuals can ask questions.”

The situation for many who remain displaced after November’s flooding has become dire, with hundreds of Merrittonians still living in hotels, campers, and spare bedrooms. Brown says that help is on the way for these individuals, but the timing of said help is hard to pin down.

With 20 3D printed homes, along with 40 modulars, the City hopes to temporarily house displaced residents within the year. The location, cost, and longevity of the housing projects are yet to be determined.

“I understand this is the most traumatic time in any one of their lives. I need them to know we are trying our hardest and working as fast as we can to get them into a situation that is more tolerable than the situation they are in now,” added Brown.

Brown also added the City will advocate for further Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) funding for residents who are still displaced, as the precedent was set by the Province during flooding in Grand Forks in May of 2018. Additional funding is needed for both homeowners who are still displaced, and by the City itself to implement flood resiliency initiatives.

These concerns came to light after the province announced $329,000 in funding to allow the City to conduct hydrotechnical assessments, resulting in the development of both short and long-term flood mitigation plans. These plans could include the expansion or alteration of Merritt’s floodplain.

“We need to adjust this floodplain. That’s another study that’s going to go on as to where that floodplain will go. That will depend on the dike plan. There’s a few steps in between, and it’s quite complicated.”

Brown says she has heard concerns from residents about the diking system possibly forcing parts of Merritt’s Quilchena Avenue to relocate, but she says the City won’t go that far, adding that the City is working hard to bring residents back home.

“We want to get them home, and we want to get them into a safe home that they can live in with pride and dignity and anything they need.”