The province of British Columbia has announced $16.6 million in funding toward a flood mitigation project in Richmond that will upgrade multiple pump stations.
Announced as part of public safety funding in the 2016 provincial budget, the $24.95-million project also includes $8.3 million from the City of Richmond, the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a press release on Thursday. The combined funding will help Richmond rebuild four pump stations that have reached the end of their functional lifespan and enhance 1,750 metres of the north dike to accommodate rising sea levels induced by climate change.
In Richmond, storm water is pumped off the island by 39 drainage pump stations, notes background information from the ministry. “It is imperative that the City of Richmond continuously upgrades infrastructure to meet the effects of climate change including rising sea level, increased intensity of storms and risk of flooding,” the information said. “Over the next four years, Richmond must continue its due diligence to ensure the safety of residents and essential infrastructure on the island.”
Climate change scientists estimate that sea level will rise about one metre over the next 100 years, the release said, requiring Richmond to raise dikes by 1.2 metres to accommodate these changes. In response to the elevated flood threat, the City of Richmond has developed a comprehensive disaster mitigation plan that includes upgrades to existing infrastructure and new mitigation structures.
Richmond is the highest-risk area in B.C. for coastal and freshet flooding, the ministry reported, noting that the investment will protect “important provincial and national infrastructure assets, including the Vancouver International Airport and SkyTrain.”
The provincial investment is part of over $49 million being provided to flood mitigation projects in communities across B.C. In the 2016 budget, the government announced $65 million to help keep communities safe, including $16 million in public safety preparedness initiatives and $49 million in community hazard mitigation initiatives, such as upgrades to dikes and flood protection.
Malcolm Brodie, Mayor of Richmond, noted in the release that the city is an island community, surrounded by water. “Richmond’s 49 kilometres of dike and the supporting drainage system is a critical part of our civic infrastructure, protecting us from the threat of flooding,” Brodie said. “We must continually strive to improve this network to address both current threats and emerging risks from climate change. This new funding will help Richmond address this important need for our community.”
Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap noted that Richmond residents and local businesses will be safer from the adverse effects of flooding. “The investment will help to protect over 13,000 businesses and will create 297 one-time jobs,” he added.
Since 2008, the province has committed $174 million with the federal government to pay for 168 flood mitigation projects in 65 communities throughout British Columbia.