Final Report: CVRD Geohazard Risk Assessment of North Slope of Cowichan Lake
YCA Note: The following is a synopsis of the important study results presented at the May 23 town meeting. We thank Area I Representative Klaus Kuhn and the CVRD for requesting the study and the Canadian government’s National Disaster Mitigation Program for funding it. For the complete 134-page report, you can go to the CVRD web site using this link:
The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is known for its stunning landscape of mountains, lakes, wetlands, and coastline, however these natural features are linked to a number of hazards, including the slope hazard for the watersheds along the north slope of Cowichan Lake in the area of Youbou and the town of Lake Cowichan. The probability of hazard events in this area is expected to worsen with climate change and increasing precipitation. The CVRD applied for funding to study geohazard risk on the windward-facing slope of Lake Cowichan to the end of Hill 60 through the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) and was a successful Stream 1 applicant. The objective of this project is to understand present-day and future risk from geohazards, specifically debris flows, which can then lead to risk reduction and resiliency planning policy. The CVRD engaged Ebbwater Consulting Inc. (Ebbwater) and Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc. (Palmer) to help with the study.
The results of the risk assessment show that many current risk scores are EXTREME-a result of moderate hazard scores combined with high-exposure scores. Some specific trends include: The risk scores for affected people are EXTREME, although the risk is clustered in a few locations. The risk to disruption and economy is HIGH to EXTREME, however this risk is more dispersed. The risk to environment and culture is MEDIUM and is relatively dispersed.
Engagement and Community Resilience
This project engaged a broad set of stakeholders at two points in the process, in order to build awareness and understanding, and to begin establishing risk tolerances to shape policy. Joint understanding, ownership, action, and ongoing learning are essential for a community to become truly resilient. These efforts will support the development of future disaster risk-reduction strategies.
The results of the geohazard risk assessment for the north slope of Cowichan Lake highlight significant risks. Reducing these risks will require a long-term strategic approach. However, some actions can be taken immediately to support disaster risk reduction.
Of utmost importance is the EXTREME risk to life. The CVRD should consider disclosing the level of risk to those most affected (i.e., homeowners in the highest hazard zones). The CVRD should then consider ways to reduce the risk. The most effective tool would be to retreat from the high-hazard areas. If that is not an option, the CVRD can suggest homeowners reduce their risk through simple actions, such as moving sleeping quarters to the safest part of the house during high-risk times (e.g., after wet periods followed by intense rainfall).
Quick Wins and No-Regrets Actions
Many geohazard mitigation planning strategies take time and/or money to implement. However, some no-regrets actions can be taken by the CVRD immediately:
Promote education and preparedness. The CVRD should continue to provide updates to stakeholders and residents regarding efforts to mitigate geohazards. There are advantages to engaging the public early and grounding policies within the local community.
Develop and nurture connections. Working with local partners, such as forestry companies and land developers, can facilitate the implementation of future policies. These groups have an effect on geohazard risk-forestry activities can increase the severity of the geohazard and developers may inadvertently put more people at risk.
Avoid any increase in geohazard risk. The CVRD should consider adopting a policy to avoid increasing geohazard risk, specifically by zoning or providing development guidance for areas in the currently recognized hazard zone. This may be applied to land use-forestry or other types of development-upslope from vulnerable areas.
The CVRD faces significant geohazard risk in the project area and seeks to reduce this risk. This project, along with work previously conducted by the CVRD, lays the groundwork for a geohazard mitigation plan. This approach is in line with the priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which the Government of BC has adopted. In addition, the CVRD plans to implement geohazard management best practice by following in the footsteps of other Canadian and international jurisdictions to implement risk tolerance-based policy. With this assessment, the CVRD is positioned to advance policy development in an integrated fashion, including modernized land-use planning policies, climate adaptation, appropriate disaster risk and response planning, and supportive infrastructure strategies.
Emergency Preparedness Task Force
The recent findings of the CVRD geohazard risk assessment have added even greater importance to our community mission of becoming more prepared for disasters. The conversation continues and we’d love for you to be part of it. Our volunteer committee will be meeting next on Monday, June 17 at 7 pm at Youbou Hall, if you would like to join us.
Mosaic Forest Management Statement on CVRD Geohazard Study
submitted by Pam Jorgensen, Mosaic Forest Management
Mosaic Forest Management is one of the property owners affected by the contents of the CVRD Geohazard Study. In 2018, we initiated a detailed, scientific terrain analysis for our timberlands above Youbou. This process is still ongoing with Golder Associates, an internationally respected geotechnical engineering firm, and other geological and terrain experts. Existing data will be supplemented with results from new investigations, which will provide detailed surface and subsurface data from core samples, on-the-ground geophysical surveys, highly-detailed LiDAR, and other data obtained using leading technologies that were not part of the desktop study commissioned by the CVRD. To facilitate this work, we will be building access routes, as previously communicated to residents. When completed, the full Mosaic study results will be made available to the CVRD and Youbou residents. We are committed to working with the CVRD, the Province and the Community on any further independent, scientific-based reviews deemed appropriate. Safety is our highest priority at Mosaic – nothing supersedes it. This is true for our employees, our contractors and the communities in which we operate. In addition, more than 30 Provincial or Federal Acts and Regulations apply to the pre-harvest planning and management of private managed forest lands. There is no harvesting planned for 2019, nor will any occur in this area until the necessary scientific analysis is completed and we have conferred with the relevant authorities.
Community Garage Sale
Thanks to everyone who participated in our annual Youbou Community Garage Sale. Some of us discarded a few items that no longer gave us joy and others discovered new treasures we didn’t know we needed. All of us appreciated the opportunity to get to know our neighbours a little bit better. We’ll offer the same opportunity next year around the same time, so start by setting aside those less-than-joyful items when you come across them.
Youbou Clean-Up: June 1
Spring cleaning, round 2. To help you get rid of unwanted items (and anything you didn’t sell at the garage sale), the Youbou Community Association and CVRD is again hosting our annual clean-up drive on Saturday, June 1. From 9 am to 2 pm, you can drop off your unwanted items at the Meade Creek Recycling Centre at no charge. (Thanks to Area I Representative Klaus Kuhn for supporting this important initiative.) And if you need help transporting your items, contact Spencer.Day@shaw.ca to schedule pick up, no later than May 29. If you would like to help with picking up items, please also email Spencer. We will have some volunteers and trucks to help, but can only accommodate one truck pick up per address. We are sorry but we cannot collect: construction materials such as dry wall, items with asbestos, refrigerators, couches, propane tanks etc. For a complete list of acceptable materials you can take to the recycling centre, check out: https://www.cvrd.bc.ca/2969/Accepted-Materials-Fees
Your YCA Board
Chair: Julia Martinusen
Co-Chair: Lori LaFave
Secretary: Randall Wilson
Treasurer: Spencer Day
Social: Eva Fearon
Publicity: Allan Gott
June 1: Spring Clean-Up, 9 am to 2 pm
June 11: 1:45 pm: YCA Board meeting, upper Youbou Hall
June 17: 7 pm: Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting, lower Youbou Hall
July 1: Canada Day celebration hosted by the Youbou Community Church Society
August 10: Youbou Firehall Breakfast, Parade and Regatta
Family Bowling: Friday nights until end of June
Adult Bowling: Saturday nights until end of June
Pickleball: foul-weather Monday and Friday mornings
Church: Sunday: 10 am Coffee and social, 11 am service. The last Sunday of every month is a potluck lunch gathering after the 11 am service.