Abbotsford receives $10 million for Matsqui flood protection

Funding aims to reduce risk of failure of dikes protecting Matsqui Prairie from a devastating flood.

The Fraser River is eroding its southerly banks along Matsqui Prairie.

Abbotsford is getting more money to improve its defences against a major flood.

The province announced Monday that it would be kicking in $10 million in flood protection funding for the city as it tries to curtail erosion to the banks and dikes protecting the Matsqui prairie.

The money comes from an $80 million emergency preparedness fund announced by the province last week.

The Fraser River has been eroding its southernly banks, and has been creeping closer to the dikes preventing large scale flooding.

The city previously developed an $8 million plan that would see rock spurs constructed underwater to redirect the flow of the river. A press release announcing the funding said the proposal remains on the table, “but other options are also still being considered.”

The release says the city and province will discuss plans with the Sumas First Nation “to develop a long term strategy to significantly reduce the risk of dike failure, while protecting fish habitat” and the Sumas traditional fishery.

The newly announced money is on top of $4 million in funding last year for Matsqui flood protection. Battling the river’s currents hasn’t always been a winning proposition, however. Last spring, work was being done to stabilize land next to an erosion arc when a large amount of land slumped toward the river waters, resulting in the creation of a new arc. Work was done to stabilize the bank, but rising river levels forced the end to those efforts in late April.

Work was set to resume early in 2017.

The Fraser Valley Regional District will also be receiving $10.5 million to upgrade dikes and pumps protecting Nicomen Island, on the north side of the river, east of Mission.

And the Fraser Basin Council will receive another $2.13 million towards studies into flood risk. Of that, $800,000 will fund a seismic assessment of dikes around the Lower Mainland. A Fraser Basin Council study last year found that many dikes in the region don’t meet provincial seismic stability standards, including several in the Abbotsford area.