Why is the Willband Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan being developed?

The Willband Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP), along with other Master Plans and Studies, is being developed to ensure that all future operations, development, infrastructure, and services align with the vision and framework set out in Abbotsford’s Official Community Plan (OCP). 

What is the purpose of the Willband Creek ISMP?

The purpose of the Willband Creek ISMP is to allow for the continuation of viable development and redevelopment, while mitigating impacts to the surrounding environment, the existing draining system, and to plan for the effects of climate change. 

Where is the Willband Creek Watershed located?


The Willband Creek watershed is located within the heart of Abbotsford and includes much of the City’s urban core. It wholly or partially covers neighbourhoods including: City Centre, Fairfield, Marshall – McCallum, Historic Downtown, Hazelwood, South Clearbrook, Immel – McMillian, and Clayburn. The major land uses within the watershed include residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional, and park and school use.  The Willband Creek watershed drains north into the Matsqui Prairie and ultimately to the Fraser River. 

What are some of the challenges in the watershed today?

As outlined in the OCP, the study area is envisioned to have considerable redevelopment and a shift towards more compact, walkable, and sustainable forms. This shift presents opportunities to implement rainwater source controls where they do not currently exist, and to refresh communal infrastructure where needed to sustain the desired service level for drainage and flood protection.

A unique aspect of this watershed is that the soils in the higher elevations where urban development exists are sands and gravels that allow rainwater to infiltrate into the ground.

Technical analysis has determined that redevelopment in itself does not pose greater risk to flooding or environmental harm, and in fact represents an opportunity for improvement.  Anticipated changes in climate which include increased precipitation in the wet season and longer drier summers represent a greater threat.  Recommended actions for the watershed consider the predicted climate change impacts. 

What are the key issues?

Some of the key issues identified through research and public engagement include:

·  increased flooding and wet conditions in Matsqui Prairie floodplain, affecting the performance of Willband Creek detention facility and influencing land usage;

·  sites of channel erosion and poor water quality, particularly Mill Lake, Boa Brook and Horn Creek;

·  risk to flooding for properties around Mill Lake if water levels in the lake are not actively managed;

·  invasive species in creek corridors; and

·  some critical trunk drainage infrastructure in poor condition or not functioning properly. 


What are the potential actions to help address the issues and concerns?

Based on background research, environmental, and technical assessments, the City has identified many potential management actions to help address the issues and concerns. The actions relate to land use management, environmental and habitat quality improvements, geotechnical and source controls, infrastructure and the Mill Lake and Willband Creek Floodplain.  

What are the performance indicators that will help measure and observe the watershed?

Several key performance indicators have also been selected to measure and observe the watershed. These key indicators include:

·  Reduced sediment deposits at the base of Horn Creek, Boa Brook, and Prairie Street Creek

·  Stability of creek bed and banks in Horn Creek, Boa Brook, and Prairie Street Creek

·  Fewer annual service complaints due to flooding

·  Increase in tree canopy as measured from aerial photos

·  A positive differential between the number of trees planted to the number of trees removed

·  No reduction in the riparian vegetation as measured from aerial photos

·  Successful implementation of source controls with all development and building permits that require them

·  Improved water quality and benthic health as measured in Horn Creek and Mill Lake

·  Successful implementation of the Capital Program.

What is an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP's)?

ISMPs are action plans for protecting and improving watershed health and addressing current issues in a watershed. The ISMP process preserves watershed health as a whole, while meeting community needs and allowing development and re-development to occur.