Chandler Proch adds another sandbag to Okanagan Lake beach as other members of the forestry crew form a chain to feed her more bags. As the water starts to drop, the City of Penticton is looking for a contractor to remove the 120,000 sandbags this crew helped place. Steve Kidd/Western News

Penticton looking for help removing sandbags

About 120,000 sandbags need to be collected

Putting all those sandbags out was a huge job, and collecting them is going to be a big effort too.

About 120,000 sandbags were set out along Okanagan Lake beach during the course of the crisis that saw the level of the lake rise to higher levels than were recorded in the 1948 flood.

Those bags now have to be removed to restore Penticton’s prize beaches to usefulness for the summer tourist season. Peter Weeber, the city’s chief administrative officer says the city doesn’t have the resources to handle the removal.

“We have enough city crews to run the city parks, roads, water and sewer,” said Weeber. The bags were laid down through a mix of city crews, volunteers, and a forestry crew seconded from Revelstoke to help.

The removal, though, won’t be costing the city, which was a concern earlier in the crisis.

“The province is covering the full bill apparently,” said Weeber. “That’s a big bonus.”

The City of Penticton has put out a call searching for a contractor to remove and dispose of all the sandbags along the Okanagan Lake waterfront, from the dam behind the SS Sicamous on the west to the marina in the eastern corner of the lake.

Weeber said further inclement weather, like the windstorm over the weekend, shouldn’t be a concern.

“All the armour is in place and it’s designed for a lot higher water so we’re good,”

Sandbag removal will be staged based on lake levels, location, priority, and other remediation work. The Request for Proposals sets out four stages for removing sandbags, with the first already passed on June 19.

July 10 is the next key date when the lake is expected to drop to 342.86 metres. July 23 and Aug 5 are the other two dates where it is estimated water levels will have dropped enough to remove another layer of sandbags.

What happens to the sand is up to the successful proponent, as long as it is disposed of properly; concerns over contamination means the sand can’t be dumped on the beaches.

All of the sand used on Penticton’s Waterfront came from the Westhills Aggregates pit or the Peter’s Bros. pit. The sand is of various gradations and quality. According to the RFP, there are no test results for this material. If the successful proponent chooses to repurpose the material it is their responsibility to gain whatever approvals and or testing necessary to ensure the material is suitable for reuse.