Langley Advance Times runs a new weekly feature, call it “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 each Sunday.
Both Langley MPs were asked the same question: Is Canada’s military equipped, trained, and sizable enough to meet the demands of responding to climate-related disasters in the near future?
MP John Aldag
A. The Canadian Armed Forces are a critical part of Canada’s emergency relief efforts. Most recently, they support communities in British Columbia that were seriously impacted by the unprecedented flooding in November.
They provided both air assets and a land component to assist with the whole-of-government relief effort. Operation LENTUS 21-06 was the sixth mission of the Canadian Armed Forces last year to assist provincial or territorial partners with the mitigation of natural disasters.
As part of our increased investments in the military since 2016, they have been well-equipped to address climate-related disasters and have been successful in all recent operations.
In B.C., they successful provided air support to assist evacuations, as well as general assistance to vulnerable and stranded people; air support to support critical provincial supply chains; reconnaissance and investigation of flooding impacts in support of relief effort planning; and assistance with flood mitigation efforts, including protection of critical infrastructure, access roads, and properties, as designated by local authorities.
Our strong response to the invasion of Ukraine, including the transferring of military aid and increased presence in Eastern Europe, are also necessary parts of our military capabilities.
We are currently reviewing our defence spending to ensure that we can meet both our international and domestic commitments.
Protecting Canadians at home and abroad will always be among the highest priorities for our government.
MP Tako van Popta
A. Driving home through Agassiz and Mission late that November afternoon, we saw rain like we had never seen before. Just earlier, we had been diverted away from Highway #1 due to washouts between Hope and Chilliwack.
But, it wasn’t until the next day that we heard the extent of the damage caused by the ‘atmospheric river’.
Sumas Prairie, formerly a lake, was under water: people were stranded, farms were under water, and Chilliwack was cut off from the rest of the world. We heard about volunteers working night and day, neighbours helping neighbours, city crews doing what they could, but people were very happy to see the Canadian Army arrive. They were instrumental in many ways including in building a levee to divert water coming in from the Nooksack River in Washington.
Is Canada’s military equipped, trained, and sizable enough to respond to climate disasters?
This flooding event of last fall and the wildfires of last summer are clear evidence we must be better prepared to adapt to our changing climate.
Earlier this fall, Mayor Braun called the three MPs whose ridings cover Abbotsford to a briefing on the state of the Sumas and Matsqui dikes. These dikes need to be raised and seismically upgraded and the Fraser River needs to be dredged.
Furthermore, we must work with our American friends to ensure the Nooksack levees are similarly upgraded.
We’re thankful the army is ready, willing, and able to step up in times of disaster, but let’s focus on climate adaptation.
Next week’s Langley City councillors are being asked: Should the City be concerned about recent Census data that shows an increasing number of potentially vacant homes in the community?
Watch for their answers online Sunday.