By Ray Hudson
Surrey: Dikes along Mud Bay and Bridgeview will be upgraded to increase the height by one metre. ‘Shovels will be in the ground’ starting next year and completing in 2021.
With Mud Bay Park as a backdrop, MLAs Marvin Hunt, MLA for Panorama, along with the Hon. Stephanie Cadieux, MLA for Cloverdale, and Surrey Councillor Mike Starchuk, announced that $15.52 million was allocated for the mitigation work.
$10.4 million would go into five kilometres of the Colebrook Dike from the Delta boundary to King George Blvd. As well, the Colebrook pump station will be reconstructed. This dike protects nearly 700 hectares of agricultural.
In the Bridgeview area, two kilometres of the Fraser River dike, from 130th Street to Bolivar Creek, will receive $4.6 million and increase protection for critical infrastructure for the residents of Bridgeview, transportation corridors such as King George Boulevard; Pattullo Bridge approach; Scott Road; Scott Road Sky Train Station; Canadian National Railway bridge crossing; Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway; Southern Railway of British Columbia; and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. All of these would be affected were a dike breach to occur. Other utilities, such as fibre optic lines, key gas mains and large water supply lines may also be affected. The economic impact resulting from losing access to Vancouver Fraser Port lands, three railways and the Pattullo Bridge would extend well beyond the City of Surrey, as these facilities are critical to the region’s transportation networks. Economic damage value in case of a dike breach is estimated at $1.9 billion.
“Prevention is the key to protecting citizens and communities from natural disasters, Cadiuex said, “and the province is partnering with cities to reinforce infrastructure that protects and reduces the impact of climate change, spending $65 million in flood mitigation and emergency preparedness initiatives across the province.”
“Over the years, Surrey has seen its share of floods,” said Marvin Hunt. “Most were minor but some very significant. In 1894 a huge swathe of the south half of the province was under water. Fortunately, few people lived here then so damage was minimized because of the relative population. However, in 1948 over two thousand homes were destroyed and sixteen thousand people had to flee flooding from the Fraser. Still, the Fraser River and the ocean shores are a major part of our economy and lifestyle. So to protect those, we’re building (and improving) barriers against flooding in this area, by improving the construction of these dikes. We’re now better at forecasting, building, and we’re better at assessing what is going to happen in the future, and what we want to do. So the province is committing roughly a quarter of the provincial commitment, $15.52 million to the city of Surrey for this upgrading, which is far better than repairing damage after the fact, if we don’t act now.”
Councillor Starchuk, speaking on behalf of Mayor Hepner, said that along with the industry and residents, Agriculture will be better protected.
“If you don’t become more adaptive to what’s going to take place on this planet with sea level rise, storms and other things like that you’re going to be growing things in a more salty environment, so we need to prevent that from happening to our farmland,” said the councillor.
Starchuk said that the Colebrook Dike constructed over 100 year ago by the settlers has increased in size and will continue to grow with proper planning and engineering, providing not only better protection, but an increased opportunity for people to enjoy the environment by using it for recreation. He said the development will be in stages designed to meet the time-lines proposed to meet any threats as identified in the city’s Climate Adaptation Strategy. To the North, the Fraser River, he said dikes will be upgraded to meet the Fraser River Flood standards and provide security against any flooding threats from the river and sea level rise.
When asked what is being done to strengthen dikes against seismic threats, Hunt replied that with the continuous upgrades, the engineers study and employ the best practices from around the world in the upgrading, to address threats from earthquakes.