Survey crew readies equipment for a day on the river, gathering data for floodplain mapping. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Survey crew readies equipment for a day on the river, gathering data for floodplain mapping. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

EDITORIAL: Time to get serious about Port Alberni’s floodplain

Port Alberni is situated in a unique topographical area…

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is embarking on the first serious mapping of the Somass River floodplain in 25 years. It’s about time.

In 2016 we advocated a change in thinking about building on Port Alberni’s floodplain, after homes along the Somass had to be evacuated for the second time in three years due to record flooding. A state of emergency for the Tseshaht First Nation during king tide and storm season in November has become the norm, not the exception.

As people focus more and more on tourism in the Alberni Valley, people’s attention turns to our waterfront and the possibilities we have for the little remaining non-industrial land on the Somass River. We need to be mindful of whether it’s a good idea to build there at all, and if we do, what is acceptable.

Port Alberni is situated in a unique topographical area, surrounded by mountains on three sides and with the Somass River under tidal influences from the Alberni Inlet, which reaches out to the west coast and Pacific Ocean. We’ve been hit with a massive tsunami in the past (1964) and the tsunami warning of just over a year ago is another reason we need to give the floodplain more attention.

It would be wasteful to ignore it.

Whether you believe in climate change or not, our community has been experiencing more severe flooding in recent years, and we’re not alone: there is a national effort afoot to develop improved floodplain mapping. The idea is to help communities adapt to extreme weather events.

Whatever the Somass River mapping results, we hope the regional district and the City of Port Alberni will take them seriously when looking at the future of our community. It’s time to be proactive, and not think about how we can mop up after the next water disaster.

— Alberni Valley News

Just Posted

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College to offer digital and in-person classes this fall

In-person classes will be able to resume in September

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
B.C. forestry watchdog finds lack of compliance in Nahmint logging

Forest Practices Board says old growth and biodiversity near Port Alberni are at risk

Port Alberni Fire Dept. deputy chief Wes Patterson, right, and another firefighter monitor the front of a garage at Second Avenue and Argyle Street that burned on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Fire starts in empty garage on Argyle Street in Port Alberni

Garage was attached to empty multi-storey commercial building

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday, May 13

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read