The Bridge to Bridge or B2B project has stirred up lots of emotions: should we go ahead with dike upgrades and beautification along the back alley? So far we have only heard from those who believe we do not need better dike protection.
With this letter we want to give voice to those who believe that – despite problems with the process – protecting downtown is the best choice for Golden.
Do we know if a flood will ever strike downtown Golden? We know that our dikes downtown do not meet the 200 year flood levels and that the height of the river level this spring was below the 200 year level.
Do we upgrade our dikes or do we remove sediment downstream to open up the river? Engineering studies tell us the water levels in the downtown area will not be any lower in the event of a flood if we remove sediment downstream. Would it be nice to have more time for more studies? Yes, of course. But we don’t know whether the provincial funding of $2.2 million for the protection we do need will ever be available again.
Those against the protection argue that only a few downtown businesses would be affected – the impact on the town as a whole would be minimal. We know how far and for how long water would flow into downtown. Look at Google Earth and check the elevations listed for downtown Golden. The water breaching the current dyke would stream as far as Reddimart to the North, the Credit Union to the East, the seniors apartments to the West and beyond.
The protection of dikes cost money. B2B is a big project. We all agree that protection is necessary. Are these the best economic times? Would it be better to deal with the costs of the inevitable flood? Ask the Mayor and residents of Sicamous.
Should we borrow to pay the costs? Are we willing to bear the huge tax increase to pay for it outright? Borrowing over the longer term and at today’s historically low interest rates means less impact on property taxes.
Finally, what about beautification while we are at it? If we put some effort into enhancing the areas where we will be digging and rebuilding anyway, we can achieve beautification at a fraction of the cost of undertaking such a project as a stand-alone. Golden has a history of doing things on the cheap and paying the price later.
Why beautify a back-alley though? Because it will no longer be a back-alley. It will be a gorgeous walking area along a heritage river next to a historical part of town, completing the loop for the businesses across from the 7/11, and connecting our pedestrian bridge to the highway bridge which then connects to our Southern downtown.
Talk to tourists at the Farmers Market – they want to wander all through our town, enjoy our amazing scenery and, yes, spend money in our stores.
B2B will keep us safe, benefit small business and be the cheapest way to do the job right.