Fraser Valley farmers concerned about upcoming rainy season

As we near a year since the Fraser Valley was hit with weeks of historic flooding, farmers are concerned at the lack of action taken to prevent it from happening again.

Co-chair of the BC Dairy Association, Sarah Sache, says there are a lot of plans in place, but nothing concrete so far.

“We’ve been following with interest of course, that City of Abbotsford plan. The first stage of their flood mitigation plan is very important to all types of farmers and in the area and residents of the Sumas Prairie as well. But that plan is not funded yet,” she told CityNews.

In April of 2022, the City of Abbotsford approved a flood mitigation plan that is aiming to meet minimum flood protection guidelines in B.C. and enhance dyke and floodway infrastructure, including building a new pump station for the Sumas River. That plan is still in the process of seeking funding from the provincial and federal governments.

The long-term flood mitigation plans for the Sumas Prairie range from $100 million to $3 billion.

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That came a few months after the entire Sumas Prairie was flooded due to a days-long atmospheric river, leading to significant livestock losses for farmers in the region.

“About 80 per cent of the milk for the whole province comes from the Fraser Valley of British Columbia,” noted Sache, who is also a farmer in Chilliwack.

She says the Fraser Valley produces so much food for the province, the risk of losing it to future weather events is too great to delay action.

“Right now, we can produce basically all the dairy we would need for everyone in British Columbia right here in the province, which I think is really special,” said Sache. “And that area gives us an opportunity to grow a lot of food so I hope that it’s something we can continue.”

“Ultimately, there’s a lot of consultation and a lot of engineering, and a lot of things that need to go into this, and we do understand that,” Sache continued. We hope that this remains part of the public conversation and that we can keep working towards long term solutions that secure food for British Columbians.”

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