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Smithers and Hazleton receive $8.7 million to repair river erosion

Smithers’ portion of funds will go toward reducing the risk of landslides threatening Smithers homes
Smithers Mayor Glady Atrill and MLA Stikine Nathan Cullen announce $8.7 million to repair Bulkley River erosion. (Morgan Powell/ The Interior News)

Smithers and Hazleton are receiving a combined total of $8.7 million to repair erosion along the Bulkley River.

The funds were delivered last year by the forest ministry, but because of wildfires in the area and other climate-related emergencies, local governments were not able to tackle the project in 2023.

Both of these projects are preventive, with the Smithers funding aiming to reduce the risk of landslides threatening 28 homes located alongside the Smithers portion of the river.

The Town of Smithers received $2.3 million grant for a riverbank erosion stabilization project.

“The town wastewater treatment plant is also down the river and having access for the residents, and for the town of Smithers, to our wastewater plant is significant,” explained Smithers mayor Gladys Atrill.

The Village of Hazelton received $6.4 million to reconstruct two dikes, as well as build a new dike.

“If you’ve been to Hazleton, you know it sits right at the confluence of two big rivers [and] has a history of some pretty significant floods and has had a lot of significant erosion that’s now threatening some of the Hazelton community and some of the reserve lands as well,” explained MLA Nathan Cullen.

“So that’s why the dollar figure there is quite large, because it’s been many, many years in the making.”

The riverbank has been deteriorating over time, with significant degradation occurring over the past 10 years.

Hazleton mayor Julie Maitland says this project is necessary due to the impact climate change has had on the river.

“The project to upgrade and extend our dike is critical to protect the people and the land of the Village of Hazleton and Gitanmaax,” said Maitland. “Investing in flood prevention infrastructure is vital to mitigating the severe impacts on people and property.”

The project is currently in its planning stage, with no exact start date confirmed.

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About the Author: Morgan Powell, Local Journalism Initiative

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