1. If the City of Abbotsford doesn’t get the funding needed for this project, what happens?
Without funding support provided by senior levels of government (or the community approving a significant raise in municipal taxes to support flood mitigation construction), the City would need to reevaluate and consider what could be feasible for improvements for flood mitigation infrastructure.
However, the City is hopeful the BC Government will provide funding support given the impacts that the flood had on our community and how the closure of Highway 1 significantly affected the transport of goods, services and people through the Province and across country.
2. Why isn’t the City working with Whatcom County to deal with the Nooksack River, so the flooding is addressed at the source?
For years, the City has recognized and advocated to senior levels of government to work with US counterparts in Washington State on solutions for the flooding of the Nooksack River.
While Washington State and the BC Government are now working together on a transboundary Nooksack flooding prevention and response initiative, the City’s feels it is important that Abbotsford proactively implement solutions within our municipality so that our residents, businesses and community infrastructure will not as be impacted when future weather events occur. With the four options presented, we are trying to address solutions that are within our jurisdiction.
Between these joint efforts, we hope our community is as protected as possible.
3. If Option 4 provides the most protection and affects the least amount of properties, businesses and agricultural land, why are the other options being considered?
All of the draft options provide enhanced flood mitigation compared to current infrastructure in place; however, with these options, or a combination of them, there will be varying levels of impact to Sumas Prairie residents, which also needs to be taken into consideration. While there is no perfect solution and each concept has its trade-offs, the City wants to hear from stakeholders and understand the needs, opinions and preferences of our residents.
The City will use all of the feedback we gather to identify a preferred flood mitigation option and complete a long-term flood mitigation plan. And as this project hinges on funding from senior levels of government, the City wants to ensure we can reflect what is most important to residents so that we can advocate accordingly on their behalf.
4. What will happen to properties that are located in the designated floodway?
In the November 2021 Sumas Prairie flooding event, 1,100 properties were impacted. The intent of all four options is to ensure that number reduced. As such, all four options provide enhanced flood mitigation compared to current infrastructure in place. While no solution is perfect, we need to take action if we want to make improvements for our community as a whole. However, in order to create a floodway or a controlled overflow location, some properties may be impacted which is why we are engaging the community to provide their feedback on the options.
As these are draft options, the City does not have exact numbers on how many properties could be impacted with various options; however, our commitment is to ensure all farmlands in areas designated for floodways or flood storage would be made whole financially. When an option is selected, and more finite plans are created, we will work directly with those residents who may be impacted.
5. Why aren’t there any details about the plans for the Matsqui dyke or Clayburn village?
Right now, the City’s primary focus is on addressing the long-term flooding mitigation needs for Sumas Prairie following the flooding in November 2021.
The atmospheric river events of 2021highlighted the need for additional improvements in other areas of our community as well, which is why we will also be asking the BC Government to support funding for improvements for Matsqui Dyke resilience, Clayburn Village resilience, and a new water source. More information will be shared about these smaller projects as it becomes available.
6. What can we expect if similar flooding events happen again before improvements are made to the flood protection?
Since the flooding occurred, the City has been actively working to restore and reinforce the existing dykes and infrastructure. In addition, portions of Sumas River Dyke were also raised during the flood, to accommodate a greater volume of water. This means we already have better protection on Sumas Prairie. However, more needs to be done. This is why the City of Abbotsford is proactively working to find solutions for our community to ensure that it is not as impacted when future weather events occur.
7. Why isn’t there a 5th option that includes the return of Sumas Lake?
As a municipality, our responsibility is to ensure that our community infrastructure protects our community and residents – this is our legislated responsibility under the Local Government Act and Community Charter – which is why we are looking at flood protection measures versus re-flooding options. Re-flooding would be an entirely different direction and one that would involve all governments. Right now our focus remains on flood protection.