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‘This has to be done’: Abbotsford moves ahead on costly flood prevention plans

Click to play video: 'Abbotsford council discusses costly flood migration' Abbotsford council discusses costly flood migration
Some costly options are on the table today as Abbotsford council meets to discuss ways to avoid a repeat of the devastation brought by last fall's flooding. As Andrea Macpherson reports, months later, more than a hundred people remain out of their homes – Apr 4, 2022

The City of Abbotsford is moving ahead with its plan to prevent and lessen the impacts of flooding, after a series of atmospheric rivers caused catastrophic damage in many areas of southern B.C., but most notably in the city’s Sumas Prairie.

On Monday, staff presented a report to council detailing four options for consideration, ranging in cost from an estimated $100 million to more than $2 billion.

The first option is to enhance the Barrowtown pump station, which is responsible for keeping water out of the Sumas Prairie, a former lake bottom. The second option would add the construction of a new Sumas River pump station, while the third option would include projects from the first two proposals as well as upgrade existing dikes and add new dikes.

Read more: Sumas Prairie residents file class action lawsuit over damage caused by B.C. floods

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The fourth and most ambitious plan incorporates the work from options one to three, along with the construction of three pump stations in Sumas Prairie West and the addition of a narrow floodway through the construction of new dikes on both sides of the Sumas River and along the U.S. border.

Mayor Henry Braun said it will be impossible to cover the costs locally, and that he has been speaking with senior levels of government the past few months, “including the premier, including (federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill) Blair, who was out here only two weeks ago.”

“They are well aware of the magnitude of the costs,” Braun said. “This has to be done.”

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Washington State flood mitigation plans cause concern in B.C – Jan 27, 2022

He added the discussion at council was just that — a discussion: “These are concepts for discussion purposes with our residents, farmers, businesses and all of the other parties that are affected by this.”

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Options that weren’t included in the staff report because they were outside of Abbotsford’s jurisdiction included building a new levee along the Nooksack River in Washington state as well as a dike along the full border about six to nine metres high.

Council voted to proceed with public engagement that would include First Nations, Washington state, the City of Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley Regional District and senior levels of government.

A decision is expected in late spring.

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