Since the catastrophic flood of 2021, funding from all levels of government has poured into the Eastern Fraser Valley to help prepare for, and hopefully prevent, the next one. On Friday, the provincial government confirmed $23.9 million will flow into the region through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF).
Chilliwack’s share of the money includes $150,000 for the preliminary design for an upgrade to the Chilliwack Creek Drainage Pump Station, which was described as a critical component of the local flood protection system. Chilliwack Creek flows into the Fraser River in the Chilliwack Mountain area, and winds its way through both Shxwha:y and Squiala territory.
The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) is receiving another $216,000 for a flood protection gap assessment and infrastructure policy framework project.
In total, 49 local governments and First Nations are receiving money to help prepare for and respond to natural disasters and climate change.
“From unprecedented wildfire seasons and a devastating heat-dome to catastrophic flooding caused by atmospheric rivers and drought, all of us have experienced the toll of climate change first hand,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, at a news conference in Chilliwack. “There can be no doubt, the climate crisis is here and our province is experiencing its impacts.
“We need to ensure communities have the tools they need to mitigate and prepare for climate-related emergencies.”
The news conference was held at the Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness warehouse on South Sumas Road.
The backdrop to Ma’s announcement was pallet after pallet of burlap sacks stacked on large metal shelfs, numbering 3,844,000 in total. It was simple sandbags that prevented a worst-case scenario in 2021 when locals placed hundreds of them to keep the Barrowtown Pump Station operational.
Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent, said the new money is meant to head off disasters before they happen. In Merritt, which was also hammered by flooding, a new dike will be built on the Coldwater River. In Victoria, funding will provide misting stations to keep people cool during extreme heat.
Paddon said the FVRD project is the type of plan-ahead strategy that can make a difference when disasters strike.
“Ever since (2021), we’ve been working with all levels of government to make sure that we’re preparing for the future, and the flood protection gap assessment and infrastructure policy framework will help us understand the best way forward for people and communities,” she said. “We are building a more resilient British Columbia and we know the only way to do that is by working together.”
The CEPF is administered through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).