Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.
Langley MLAs were asked: What is one thing the province should do to prepare our highways, pipelines, and power transmission infrastructure for the harsh weather of a future impacted by climate change?
Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman
A. Government has a responsibility to ensure local authorities and communities have the supports and resources needed to have the greatest level of warning and preparedness of incoming weather events, so we can protect our roads, power lines, and infrastructure.
For example, citizens of Washington State were warned of floods 48 hours before those in Sumas Praire, robbing them of valuable hours to move equipment and livestock, evacuate families, and barricade roads and infrastructure – because they weren’t warned by the NDP government in time about the impending flood of the Nooksack River.
In addition,the provincial state of emergency was declared over two days after the initial damage was done, delaying local affected areas of badly needed Canadian Armed Forces help. This was an inherent failure of the NDP.
With the growing impacts of climate change, it’s becoming ever more apparent these significant climate disasters will become more commonplace.
We need significant investment from the province in our infrastructure, to not only rebuild the major roads and highways, but to strengthen them against future heatwaves, wildfires, floods, landslides, and other disasters.
Government must also invest in greater communication and disaster preparedness to give communities the appropriate level of forewarning of impending weather events. On Nov. 18, the BC Liberal caucus called an emergency debate in the Legislature and requested an all-party working group be initiated to review the provincial government’s response to emergencies and discuss ways to improve government communications, disaster preparedness, and emergency response protocols.
The NDP has yet to respond.
Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong
A. We have seen, firsthand this year, the devastating impacts that extreme weather events can have on our communities and it’s clear that more action needs to be taken to prevent such destruction in the future.
We know that the growing impacts of climate change will make harsh weather events more frequent, and therefore we need to make continued investment in our infrastructure so it can withstand future weather and continue to serve citizens, even during a crisis.
But alongside infrastructure improvements, we also need to improve the way and the speed with which government responds to disasters.
A quick and decisive response is essential for mitigating damage and giving people warning wherever possible before evacuating, saving lives, and allowing people the opportunity to prepare their property or evacuate livestock.
Clear communication from government to those on the ground is invaluable and is something that has been missing from this government’s disaster response.
It’s why our BC Liberal caucus has called on the NDP government to initiate an all-party working group to review the past responses to emergencies, examine and identify where the gaps and shortcomings exist, and develop better plans and strategies for the future.
This is a step that would help to better protect the people of B.C., and hopefully prevent damage to property and infrastructure on the scale we have seen this past year.
I sincerely hope the government will see the value in this request and implement such a committee as soon as possible.
Langley-East MLA Megan Dykeman
A. A top priority for our government is keeping British Columbians safe, and that includes on our highways.
The flooding that resulted from recent weather events has been devastating, and as we rebuild, we will continue to do so with safety and the impacts of climate change at top of mind.
With any highway infrastructure work planned around the province, it is a requirement for the design engineers to consider how climate change and future changes to weather will affect the infrastructure, and what can be done to make our roads and bridges more resilient, so they remain reliable and open.
Examples include upsizing culverts, bridging areas of concern where culverts are no longer suitable, redesign of drainage channels for future flow, and better armouring of slopes.
This approach means appropriate climate adaptation is considered over the entire design life of our infrastructure.
Langley MLA Andrew Mercier
A. The past year has been a stark reminder of the impacts of climate change.
We know it’s serious, and our government is taking a comprehensive approach with our ambitious and award-winning climate action plan, the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030.
In addition to this plan, which will mitigate the effects of climate change for future generations, we can look at how we are preparing and improving infrastructure.
For example, extreme weather caused by climate change can have an impact on reservoir levels.
That’s why BC Hydro is continually working to improve weather and inflow forecasting, and expanding hydro-climate monitoring technologies. BC Hydro staff are highly trained and experienced in adapting quickly to changing conditions.
In addition, investments in infrastructure and capital projects, like spillway gate replacements, will increase resiliency to climate change.
Due to the Christmas holidays, we will be taking a break from At Your Service for the next few weeks. Tune in again early in the new year, 2022.
Watch for the politicians’ answers online Sundays.