The District of Vanderhoof has hit a major snag on its riverbank stabilization project for Riverside Park.
The District has submitted multiple proposals to stabilize the river bank, but have been shut down by the Department of Fisheries.
“The frustration that our engineers and staff have found is that, each time they come up with a solution we find that Fisheries or some other government body looks at it and says ‘nah that’s not quite going to work.’” said Mayor Gerry Thiessen
Vanderhoof’s first plan was rejected by the DFO because the bank revetment would fall within the natural high water level of the river. A follow up design was also turned town, with a District report indicating the DFO stated “their hands are tied” because the work contravenes parts of the Species at Risk Act, due to the work occurring in the “critical habitat polygon” of the white sturgeon.
Thiessen says erosion has taken away a “substantial” amount of the riverbank in recent years.
“We need to find a solution. This is not a doing of our communities, this is something that’s coming that we need to work to stabilize this bank and to take care of it.”
He says they will be working to set meetings with higher levels of government fix the problem.
The close proximity and strong relationship the District has the the Sturgeon Recovery Initiative gives the Mayor optimism they will be able to find a design that works.
“The sturgeon beds are right close to where the erosion is taking place. So people in the working group and the access they have to the technical group really allows us to find a solution and bring reality to this problem.”
Vanderhoof has spent most of the $35,000 it has set aside for design work on the project. Thiessen admits the solution will end up costing a bit more, and taking longer than originally hoped.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans could not be reached for comment.