The City of Merritt will soon apply for flood mitigation funding towards its $165-million diking and flood protection plan, by way of a billion dollar federal program that has reopened for applications. The federal government recently topped up its Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), applications for which will now remain open until mid-July.

Well over one year since the atmospheric river-caused flooding event that displaced all 7000 Merritt residents and caused millions in damages, many continue the long process of recovery, including the City of Merritt and its infrastructure. The new federal funding should have an application from the City of Merritt within the next week. The City originally had an application ready for DMAF in mid 2022, but found out applications were closed and had to wait. Mayor Mike Goetz told the Herald that any amount of funding is a good start.

“They’ve mentioned 40 percent, but they’re also pointing to the fact that we can ask provincial help, and we can also ask for private help as well,” said Goetz.

“That’s the route we’re going to take at this point. I’ll be happy to get anything to start the process of getting those dikes repaired. Anything is better than nothing, which is what we have at this point in time.” 

The City is currently relying on temporarily repaired dikes, including the use of an emergency military dike. If the City’s proposed $165 million dollar plan is fully funded, it would cover the cost of permanently diking both the Coldwater and Nicola Rivers, better protecting infrastructure and homes from possible future flooding. 

The plan includes measures to move some dikes back by purchasing homes that will be removed, creating a larger flood channel for the Coldwater River. Up to 40 percent of the plan’s cost could be covered by DMAF if the City’s application is successful, but the rest would need to be sourced elsewhere. Goetz said the City would seek another 35 to 40 percent from the provincial government. 

“This is just one avenue where we can get some money and start on the most devastated areas first, and then continue on from there,” noted Goetz.

“Forty percent doesn’t sound like a lot, and we’d like a whole lot more, but there are other avenues and other pots of money to draw from with the government.”

Infrastructure Canada said that approximately $1 billion is available through DMAF, which was created in 2018, and has been topped up several times since. Projects funded by DMAF should mitigate risks in advance, including wildfire, flooding, and permafrost thaw risks. Applications are assessed on merit, including criteria for project rationale, hazard assessments, and innovation. 

Goetz added that he is hopeful for a decreased flooding risk overall in the spring, with decreased snowpack levels expected, and applications for risk mitigation projects being submitted.