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Posted: February 24, 2015

Dam breach concern forcing lake level lowering

After a review of the findings and recommendations of an engineering report on the safety of the dam at Idlewild Park, City of Cranbrook Council last night made the decision to lower the lake in order to protect public safety.

Mayor Lee Pratt
Mayor Lee Pratt

“Council understands how significant and important Idlewild Lake and the park are to our residents and neighbours, so I hope everyone will understand why this is being done,” said Mayor Lee Pratt. “The lowering of Idlewild Lake is a temporary measure to protect the public should the dam fail.”

The Dam Breach Inundation Study notes that in the event of a dam failure, the uncontrolled release of water from Idlewild Lake, would follow Joseph Creek, the natural path through the city, and has the potential to flood approximately 21% of the city, impacting up to 2,100 residential properties and nearly 500 businesses with the potential for loss of life.

“We need to lower the lake to protect the public, but looking ahead we plan to build a new dam, restore and enhance the lake and park along with the rehabilitation of the dam and the spillway system,” added Pratt. “Idlewild is an important asset and we want to include residents in the discussion about what a rehabilitated Idlewild Lake should look like.”

Idlewild Lake. Images by Ian Cobb/e-KNOW
Idlewild Lake. Images by Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

The City of Cranbrook and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) have also been discussing the future of Idlewild Park and the potential for a partnership. “We recognize the significance of Idlewild to the residents and visitors of the area, and look forward to the opportunity to work with the city to create a new plan for the Lake and Park,” said Electoral Area C Director and RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay.

“We had to make the tough decision. It’s not a decision that came lightly to council,” Pratt stated during last night’s council meeting. “This is a big project and an important one,” emphasized Pratt. “Lowering the lake to protect the public is only the first step of many. We will make sure our residents and our neighbours are kept up to date on what is happening and we look forward to consulting with the public on the future of Idlewild Lake and the park.”

Idlewild Lake as seen from the dam.
Idlewild Lake as seen from the dam.

Idlewild dam, built in the 1930s, is an earth-fill dam with a concrete core. The dam is classified as a very high consequence dam as categorized by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and confirmed by the Dam Breach Inundation Study, completed by Urban Systems in 2014.


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