April 19, 2016 by Canadian Underwriter
British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has announced $4 million in funding for shoreline flood mitigation projects in Abbotsford that, if left unrepaired, could undermine the dike protecting the Matsqui Prairie and important regional infrastructure.
Announced as part of the public safety funding in the 2016 provincial budget, the project builds on similar repairs to erosion arcs in areas different from those repaired by the local authority last year, the transportation and infrastructure ministry said in a press release on Monday.
The project will provide stabilization of river banks along the Fraser River to help protect nearly 5,000 hectares of agricultural land, the historic Clayburn and Matsqui Village, Matsqui First Nations and major regional infrastructure like Highway 11, railways, the National Defence communications centre, BC Hydro towers, gas mains, and water and community wastewater facilities.
The ministry reported that seven erosion arcs have formed along the south bank of the Fraser River between the northerly tip of Matsqui Prairie and Sumas Mountain since 1997. This section of river bank is prone to erosion and rock protection was originally placed along the bank in 1971 and 1983.
Scouring along the south bank continues to be a significant problem. The river flow is changing direction causing scouring and deepening at the base of the bank. “This eventually undermines the rock protection causing the rock to move, resulting in bank erosion and movement,” the release said. “The erosion arcs visible above the water level are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and most of the damage is occurring underneath the water level.”
The provincial investment is part of more than $49 million being provided to flood mitigation projects – such as upgrades to dikes and flood protection – in communities throughout British Columbia. Late last month, the province announced $16.6 million in funding toward a flood mitigation project in Richmond that will upgrade multiple pump stations. The $24.95-million project also includes $8.3 million from the City of Richmond. 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, the ministry said at the time.
Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson said in the release that the funding is “building on the work that has already been done to stabilize the river banks and ensure we protect the agricultural land, major infrastructure, and, most importantly, the people who live there.”
Added Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun: “This substantial investment by the Province of B.C. will help us to ensure we can protect our community from the flood risks posed by the erosion arcs in the Fraser River.”
Since 2008, the province has invested in 156 projects worth $145 million: $62 million provided provincially, $46 million federally and $37 million in funding from the local authority.