The city has closed the Rivers Trail between Riverside and Pioneer parks and plans to close boat launches at the end of the week as the rivers rise and the city preps for water levels not seen in two decades.
City of Kamloops utility services manager Greg Wightman said water has risen onto the Rivers Trail beneath the CN Rail bridge behind the Sandman Centre parking lot, something that occurs regularly during high water years. The trail will be closed until water levels recede, which will take at least a few weeks and possibly longer.
“It’s not safe to walk under that rail bridge, so we close the entire trail between the two parks,” Wightman said.
Further measures will be put into place on Friday, with closure of city boat launches. Wightman said the decision was made to protect boaters. Significant debris is coming downstream and rescue personnel are limited in their ability to help
“You can’t pass under a lot of the bridges on the river right now,” Wightman said. “There’s just not enough room to get rescue boats underneath there. We’re not able to rescue folks if they need that right now.”
Although the city does not have jurisdiction over banning recreational boating from waterways, Wightman said the city is advising boaters, including those who live on the river and who may not need access to city boat launches in order to access the river, to be cautious.
“There is a lot of debris in the river,” Wightman said. "Certainly reduce your speed as best you can. Wave action, it can be a challenge for some of the riverbanks right now that are already at high capacity.”
Waves may tip some properties over the edge in terms of being able to handle high waters. In addition, they may erode riverbanks.
Meanwhile, the city has been busy sealing catch basins and manholes. Motorists may have noticed flood protection bags in low-lying areas on the North and South shores, along the rivers.
“The catch basin drains to the river and, when the river reaches a high elevation, it actually backs up into that catch basin and we need to seal the catch basin so that water doesn’t come out of it and start to flood the streets,” Wightman said.
He said he continues to meet daily with Emergency Management BC, the River Forecast Centre, the Ministry of Forests and Environment Canada to help predict river levels, with the latest projections expecting somewhere between a 1972 and 1999 flood year, historic flood years in the River City.
“It means that it’s going to be a very high water year,” Wightman said. "It’s going to be certainly higher than anything we’ve seen in recent history here, certainly within 20 years, and anyone along the river needs to be taking whatever measures they can to protect their properties from high waters.”
Sand and sand bags are available throughout the city. For more information, including guidelines on how to fill sandbags with physical-distancing rules in place, go online to kamloops.ca/safety-bylaws/emergency-programs/flooding.
Earlier this month, the city installed a barricade of Hesco baskets in Riverside Park. Made of wire mesh and a burlap liner, the baskets are lined up and/or stacked and filled with dirt to create a wall, essentially an artificial riverbank.
The barricade spans 900 metres behind Rivers Trail, from Uji Garden to just past the washrooms at the east end of the park. Wightman explained the barricade will protect critical infrastructure. Though park users may not realize when strolling along Rivers Trail, sewer infrastructure is hidden beneath the green space, with the odd manhole bearing signs of underground pipe. Wightman said gravity-fed sewer mains lead to a pump station behind the tennis and pickleball courts.
Wightman said additional measures will be prompted by the city’s “very well-developed” flood response plan.