Flood mitigation framework, projects make Abbotsford region more resilient

Sumas Prairie flooding in November 2021. Photo: Abbotsford Police

A significant multi-government agreement to make Sumas Prairie more resilient to flooding was signed on Friday, April 28 by the Province, Semá:th, Matsqui and Leq’á:mel First Nations, the City of Abbotsford and the City of Chilliwack.

The Sumas River Flood Mitigation Collaborative Framework will support the design of mitigation projects in the Sumas River watershed and timely delivery of watershed recovery programs that benefit people and the farming community and protect infrastructure.

“The atmospheric river events of November 2021 resulted in devastating flooding of the Sumas Prairie, impacting the lives and livelihood of everyone in Abbotsford and cutting the Lower Mainland off from the rest of the province and country,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “We know we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve done them before if we want to protect the region from future catastrophic flooding. We’re confronting the realities of climate change head on in partnership with local governments and First Nations in ways that incorporate Indigenous knowledge into flood-mitigation planning.”

The agreement sets out a framework for all partners to work efficiently and collaboratively toward solutions and approaches to address the challenge of flooding risks. The Province is providing more than $4 million to support the framework, which includes a technical team of experts to share knowledge and advice on best practices for flood-risk mitigation.

Additionally, there will be upgrades to Abbotsford’s Barrowtown pump station, which was overwhelmed by floodwaters from the nearby Sumas and Nooksack rivers when a series of atmospheric rivers inundated the Fraser Valley in November 2021. These upgrades are among 10 projects receiving a combined $8.48 million from the Province, including repairs to infrastructure, such as roads and the Sumas dike.

The Barrowtown pump station was originally designed to protect the catchment area of Sumas Prairie east from the Sumas River, but the November 2021 event overwhelmed the station. Funding will enable the design and construction of a flood wall to protect the pump station, including its electrical system.

The City of Abbotsford is receiving $3.2 million for the Barrowtown pump station flood-protection upgrades and $5.28 million for additional recovery projects.


Facts about 2021 flooding, risk management

* The floods of November 2021 were the most expensive natural disaster in B.C.’s history with catastrophic impacts to communities, the economy and critical infrastructure.

* More than 1,250 farms in the Abbotsford area account for close to $1 billion in annual receipts and support about 5,500 jobs.

* Forty kilometres of flood protection dikes and 16 pumps on the Sumas Prairie currently assist with flood mitigation.

* Since 2017, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) has funded more than 1,500 disaster risk reduction projects throughout B.C., totalling more than $185 million in provincial funds.

* This includes $145 million to approximately 380 flood risk reduction projects.

* EMCR and the Ministry of Forests are investing $8.69 million for flood-hazard mapping, including funding to support B.C.’s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy.

* The Province is investing more than $38 million over the next six years to collect light detection and ranging (LiDAR) elevation data, giving B.C. communities access to high-quality data to support decision-making about planning and management of wildfires, landslides, floods and other natural events.

* In February 2023, the Province provided an additional investment of $180 million to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) to support Indigenous and local governments in preparing for and mitigating current and future disaster risk, including flood risk.

* This and other new investments in CEPF bring the total provincial investment in CEPF to $369 million since its establishment in 2017 and adds another two years of intakes to the CEPF program.


Abbotsford flood recovery projects

The City of Abbotsford is receiving $3.2 million for the Barrowtown pump station flood-protection upgrades and $5.28 million for additional recovery projects.

* Matsqui Prairie-McClennan Creek – Repair erosion and damage to the creek slope and embankments;

* Clayburn Creek – Engineering study on mitigation measures;

* Ivy Court – Repair to slope erosion as required;

* Cariboo Court – Repair to slope erosion and damage to property adjacent to creek;

* Ash Street – Repairs to slope and storm sewer;

* McKee Road – Slope repair and stabilization; material and debris removal;

* Mount Lehman Cemetery – Slope repair, erosion control measures, and debris removal;

* Latimer Road – Road and slope repairs; material and debris removal; and

* Sumas Dike, multiple sites – Material and debris removal; dike repairs.


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