Neighbours of Joe and Glenda Allen are now on the edge of the Cottonwood River.

Neighbours of Joe and Glenda Allen are now on the edge of the Cottonwood River.

Missed opportunities

Flooding is expected during this time of year, but many property owners along the banks of the Cottonwood River say their offers to reinforce their property were turned down by government.

The Allens’ home has already been dismantled, another property is dangerously close to following its fate and a dozen more are threatened by the raging river.

“We missed an opportunity to prevent this situation,” Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson said.

In 2009, a dozen homeowners offered to shore up the riverbanks at their own expense to protect their homes in the event of rapidly rising water levels, but the Department of Fisheries denied the request, citing possible damage to  fish habitat.

“They did not build on a flood plain,” Cariboo Regional District Area B director Roberta Faust said. “This is not a cause of nature. This is man-made.”

Faust said she met with a number of government agencies, all of whom cited fisheries as the main concern.

“They said they were not saying no, but they made it impossible to get anything done,” Faust said.

“I’m so fed up with the bureaucracy of it all. Those people deserve a hell of a lot better.”

Simpson said he is now working with Solicitor General Shirley Bond to compensate those impacted by the flood.

“We have three definitive phases here,” he said.

“Prevention, which we missed out on. Now the current, emergent situation we are in. And, three: Are these homes now livable? My office is looking into options for the property owners.”

“It is bureaucracy that stopped us from helping these people save their homes,” Faust added.

“We need to do right by them.”