Cities call for integrated approach to flood control

As waters of the Fraser River rise, municipalities are collaborating on an integrated, regional approach to flood management.

As waters of the Fraser River rise during the annual freshet, municipalities are collaborating on an integrated, regional approach to flood management.

Chilliwack city councillor Jason Lum, who chairs of the Flood Control and River Management committee at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, is a fan of the idea.

“Taking a regional approach makes sense. Flood waters, should they overtop our works, will not stop when they reach the next municipal boundary. So an integrated approach is the way to go,” he said.

It’s actually a strong message for whatever B.C. party is elected this week, said Lum. It means that communities are pledging up front to help each other and share information.

“It also means that municipal governments are ready to work together to ensure the safety of our citizens, our assets and our economies.”

A resolution to that effect passed as a late item off the floor at the May 7 LMLGA meeting during the policy resolution sessions, asking for multi-year funding. It was drafted by City of Chilliwack staff for the committee, and underwent a minor change that night before the affirmative vote at LMLGA.

“Now that they’ve passed and endorsed it, it goes on to UBCM,” Lum said.

Union of B.C. Municipalities can then lobby the province to make the necessary changes to make the integrated approach take hold.

“If it floods in Chilliwack, the economic impact will be felt around the province,” he said. “And we’re talking impacts and damaged in the order of billions.”

The way the funding model works now has communities vying for their portion of the small, “already over subscribed” infrastructure budget.

“This shows that local governments stand willing to work together on common issues around flooding and river management. We believe it will strengthen the case for more senior government funding.”

Making the business case is the first step, he said.

“What I think will come of that is the idea that we want a more predicable funding model for flood management and flood control infrastructure. We know that no municipal government in the province has the resources to take it on alone. So now we have a starting point. The work begins.”