Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Provincial and Federal Money + Regional Coordination = Better Flood Mitigation

Flood along 208th Street in Langley City

As I posted late last year, the province and municipalities have known that the majority of our dikes in the Lower Mainland are “substandard and most will not withstand the provincially adopted design flood events.”

This winter’s flooding was a wake-up call for all levels of government to evaluate flood management and mitigation infrastructure in the Lower Mainland.

The provincial government transferred responsibility for dikes to municipalities or local authorities in the early 2000s, but did not provide the monetary resources or tools to help maintain these dikes.

This lack of funding is changing. The provincial government is providing $400 million this year, $500 million next year, and $250 million the year after that for “investments that will need to be made to help communities recover. The province will be working with impacted communities and residents to assess the extent of the damage to critical infrastructure and identify what will be required to increase resilience against future events.” The federal government is also providing significant funding.

Flooding management and mitigation require a regional response. The current patchwork of governments and authorities, even with funding, would lead to a less effective response than a coordinated effort.

In Metro Vancouver, the regional district is taking a leadership role with the newly formed Flood Resiliency Task Force.

Its mandate includes (among others):

  • Reviewing the impacts on the region and Metro Vancouver Regional District members by the severe flooding in November and December of 2021
  • Identifying risks and gaps in the existing infrastructure to mitigate flooding
  • Identifying short-term and longer-term capital investment to repair damage to the infrastructure from recent floods and to build infrastructure to withstand predicted flooding due to climate change
  • Identifying roles and responsibilities of all orders of government to financing, developing and maintaining flood management and mitigation infrastructure

The task force terms of reference also note that it will need to work with the Fraser Valley Regional District as we are all in the Fraser River basin.

With new provincial and federal funding, I hope this task group will affect coordinated flooding management and mitigation throughout the Lower Mainland.

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