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AT YOUR SERVICE: MLAs agree much to be done to safeguard against climate-related disasters

Question-and-answer feature calls on those elected to office in Langley
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Do you have a question you’d like to see put to the Langley MLAs? Email your idea to editor@langleyadvancetimes.com.

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.

MOST RECENT – AT YOUR SERVICE: Trustees divided on question of socializing kids

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QUESTION

Langley MLAs were asked: How much more work needs to be done to upgrade dikes and provide sufficient flood protection to withstand another atmospheric river, like the one that hit the Fraser Valley more than a year ago?

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ANSWERS

Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman

A. Since the devastating impact of the Sumas Prairie flood in 2021, many farmers and residents are still waiting for the support they expected from the government to help them recover and get back on their feet.

Unfortunately, bureaucracy and red tape with overly cumbersome and lengthy application criteria have made getting the necessary help even more difficult.

As the newly appointed shadow minister for emergency management, climate readiness, and citizens’ services, I’m especially concerned about David Eby and the NDP’s ability to adequately prepare for future climate emergencies and reduce the potential impacts on our communities.

As devastating as the flooding of the Nooksack River was, the elephant in the room is the dike system along the Fraser River, which is at high risk of catastrophic erosion.

This is something I and others have raised alarm bells about, and the province must take immediate steps to repair and upgrade the entire diking system.

If the events of 2021 were to happen again, we would undoubtedly face similar consequences as last time.

The solutions implemented so far are temporary fixes that don’t strengthen our emergency preparedness for future — and likely more intense — scenarios.

We all have an obligation to work together.

As the shadow minister, I look forward to holding the government to account for its promises to help those still trying to recover, and to improve infrastructure so we can avoid a catastrophe of that magnitude or worse again.

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Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong

A. The atmospheric river of November 2021 caused catastrophic flooding in our community and throughout the province, and the impacts of this disaster can still be felt today.

Vital highways were completely washed out, rail lines destroyed, mudslides trapped people in their vehicles, and metres of water flooded many of our cities.

While the rebuilding efforts have been efficient, and the majority of the public infrastructure restored, many of the individuals and families who were directly impacted by the floods are still working towards recovery.

Unfortunately, some continue to wait for the support that was promised to them more than a year ago.

In the months after the floods, we worked hard to rebuild our communities — but many of us asked ourselves and our government, “what can we do to ensure this never happens again?”

While at the time there was a great deal of talk about upgrading flood protection measures, we haven’t seen the progress on these issues that is necessary to prevent future disasters.

Going forward, we must make flood mitigation a priority for all levels of government, including our neighbours to the south in the United States.

I have spoken with the minister of public safety in the past about the importance of engaging the international joint commission on this issue, and ensuring that both federal governments, as well as provincial, state, and municipal work together to deliver results for those who live in the Fraser Valley.

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Langley-East MLA Megan Dykeman

A.Our government knows that climate change means that we may see more climate-related weather events like the atmospheric river that caused mass flooding and landslides in the Fraser Valley, and we’ve been repairing and preparing so that if that happens, we are ready.

So much work has already been done to repair highways, dikes, and other flood infrastructure – and there is more to come.

This year, Premier Eby named Bowinn Ma the first ever minister of emergency management and climate readiness, to help lead cross ministry work that will help prepare us for future emergencies.

Our province is investing in better floodplain mapping and developing a new comprehensive provincial flood strategy and flood resilience plan, The BC Flood Strategy.

I know that for Minister Ma and all people working in government, making our communities more climate resilient is incredibly important.

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Langley MLA Andrew Mercier

A. In November of 2021 we were faced with a stark reality on the impacts of climate change.

Since then, our government has been diligently working to prepare for climate-related emergencies.

Between the provincial, federal, and municipal governments in flood-impacted communities, hundreds of millions of dollars for recovery in the Fraser Valley will help prepare for future flood-related emergencies.

This includes making communities more prepared and resilient to disasters through programs like the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, and by upgrading key flood infrastructure, like diking systems.

The safety of British Columbians is our top priority, and that’s why all our infrastructure plans, including the Surrey-Langley Skytrain and the widening of Highway #1, are being planned and built to be resilient to possible future floods or landslides.

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UP NEXT

Next week, Langley’s MPs are being asked: How much assistance should the federal government provide for provinces and communities to build more affordable rental accommodations?

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Watch for the politicians’ answers online Sundays.

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Roxanne Hooper

About the Author: Roxanne Hooper

I began in the news industry at age 15, but honestly, I knew I wanted to be a community journalist even before that.
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