Flooding was on the agenda for Langley City’s mayor Monday during visits with federal politicians in Ottawa.
Mayor Val van den Broek was in the nation’s capital with a Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) group for executive meetings and advocacy days.
Among other things, civic leaders from both B.C. and Newfoundland were hoping to make sure towns and cities have a seat at the table when it comes to planning for future flood prevention and response, said van den Broek.
“We’re doing everything we can to get a response,” she said.
In Langley City, there was localized flooding impacting a number of properties during the first of the three atmospheric rivers in early November.
More atmospheric rivers hit southern B.C. starting on the weekend of Nov. 27 and 28, with the final storm expected to start in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Residents in low-lying areas across Langley have been dealing with flooded basements and water in the lower levels of buildings from the multiple storms.
While the damage is not nearly as bad as the devastation that has hit Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie, it has been the highest water levels seen locally in many years.
It also means the City may look at changes to how things are built in and around the Nicomekl flood plain, said van den Broek.
“We can’t necessarily build to what we had before,” van den Broek said.
Building higher or further from the river may be considered. The mayor said the City has already been reviewing its plans based on guidance in federal and provincial climate action plans, with consideration to sea levels rising.
“There are going to be hard discussions,” she said.
The high water of the last few weeks has essentially been a preview of what the City could expect in the coming decades, van den Broek said.
In the Township of Langley, Mayor Jack Froese noted that buildings in flood-prone areas already have to be build on raised land or back from streams due to the building code.
He said there weren’t immediate plans to examine those, but “I think we’re always looking at it,” Froese said.
The Township has been offering sand to residents who are looking to sandbag their properties, advising people to keep drains clear where possible, and warning of multiple road closures as numerous low-lying areas were under water again starting on Sunday, Nov. 28.
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