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Abbotsford dike repairs near completion a year after catastrophic floods

Nearly a year after flooding in Abbotsford destroyed farms and killed livestock in the area, the province says repairs to damaged infrastructure will be done by the end of the month.

By Martin MacMahon and The Canadian Press

As we approach the anniversary of last year’s devastating floods in the Lower Mainland, we’re hearing repairs to a key dike in Abbotsford will soon be complete.

Temporary repairs made after the November 2021 atmospheric river have failed to completely keep the water out. However, by the end of November 2022, the province says work on the Sumas Dike will be done.

“At the same time, Abbotsford has identified their priorities and we’re working closely with them and First Nations on how we deal with the diking and the flood challenges in this particular area,” B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said Thursday.

“Planning for the future is important. But as we continue to recover from last fall’s flooding, we know that recovery doesn’t just mean rebuilding roads and buildings, it’s about people. Through the Disaster Financial Assistance Program, we’ve disbursed over $24 million to help people repair and rebuild their homes and businesses.”

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He says there’s “developmental work” underway, with strategies also looking at long-term solutions.

Last November’s flooding, which Farnworth has referred to as “one of the most devastating weather events in the history of our province,” caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of destruction. Not only did it flood communities, it also washed out highways and other infrastructure across many areas of southern B.C.

Emergency Management BC has provided $1.6 million to help with the permanent repairs to the Sumas Dike.

Farnworth says 500 debris sites have been cleared, and the province has also approved more than $41 million in funding to repair and restore sites along waterways in the Fraser Valley.

However, there’s more work to be done.

New Abbotsford Mayor Ross Siemens is pushing for a bigger pump station at Barrowtown.

Meanwhile, an Indigenous-led collaborative is calling for better accountability from the B.C. government for the use of a $5 billion recovery fund, saying there’s little information about how the federal transfer is being spent.

The Build Back Better Together Collaborative says it is encouraged by the province’s public consultations on flood strategy, but a statement from the group says the remainder of the fund should be dedicated to its own approaches.

They include redesigning programs and regulations to boost regional co-operation on flood-resilient infrastructure, and creating a watershed security fund that would direct some of the federal recovery dollars to strengthening B.C.’s natural flood defences.

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