Lake Country facing high costs of flooding, fire

Two natural disasters in one year is proving costly for both the District of Lake Country and the province.

The Okanagan Centre fire totalled about $150,000, while the spring flooding costs were roughly 1.7 million dollars.

Chief Financial Officer Tanya Garost says $339,000 worth of flooding expenses are the district's responsibility, with those funds set to come out of both the city's general and water surplus accounts.

"So at the end of last year, our general surplus balance was $2,545,429. So that ($339k) is a small percentage really, of the balance that we hold in our general surplus," she said.

"We had a large surplus in our water reserve as well, it was just over $1 million. So the $81,000 (that's coming) out of that is a small percentage as well."

With the state of emergency being called during the flooding, it meant the province would pay for 80% of the costs, with the district picking up the remaining 20%.

On the fire side, Lake Country is on the hook for $110,000.

Garost says part of the reason why the city has to pay a higher percentage of those costs, is that the province doesn't pay for any of the municipal firefighters.

As well, she says with natural disasters becoming more commonplace, cities and municipalities across BC are trying to put more money into reserve funds.

"I'm involved with the Government Finance Officers Association of British Columbia, and there has been a big push around the province to make sure everybody has, or is considering, a reserve policy - and that they have money set aside. I think that the frequency of these events is really just going to push municipalities to consider that more seriously."

Garost says the smaller a municipality is, the harder it is to find large amounts of money for disaster relief, that isn't included in a regular budget.