The recent flooding in Kelowna has impacted more than homes and businesses, leaving farmers along Mission Creek feeling ignored by relief and mitigation efforts.
Ron McMillan of McMillan Farms grew up on this land, which his family has been farming since 1950. He told Capital News that while flood events are a natural part of the landscape in this area of the city, the increasing frequency and magnitude of the floods is like nothing he has ever seen before.
“Definitely things are changing, and I believe it’s related to the way that the creek is managed, at least partially,” said McMillan.
He explained that gravel removal, to help the flow of the river, used to be a common practice in Mission Creek but it was stopped in the mid 90s.
McMillan alleges that the gravel removal was stopped to help the spawning of Kokanee Salmon.
Unfortunately, he said that since the last gravel removal event, the population of spawning Salmon has continued to decline, while flood events become more destructive.
“We’ve got lots of studies, almost zero action,”said McMillan.
When he reached out to the City about issues he has noticed along the creek, he says he was met with bureaucracy.
“It’s always stakeholders that have no direct skin in the game that are making these decisions without actually getting local knowledge about what’s happening,” said McMillan.
Daryl and Lynda Ramsay from DNL Equine Services, on Mission Creek Ranch, have had to relocate some of their livestock due to the floods.
They have been working on their farm to mitigate the effects of the flood for the past few years, and this year, no amount of digging channels was enough to keep up with the overflowing river.
They explained that the City prioritizes protecting homes and businesses over farms in events like floods. However, their farm is a business, said Daryl, and when they have to relocate animals they are losing money.
Lynda said that they prioritize the welfare of their animals and while it may be a blow to their checkbook, it is worth it to keep their animals safe and dry.
The City of Kelowna and RDCO were unavailable for comment at deadline.