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Our View: When rebuilding, plan for a stormy century

Upgrading dikes, but also changing how we build is key
A large breach in Abbotsford’s Sumas Dike near No. 3 Road and Marion Road has since been sealed. (Photo: Abbotsford Police Department)

We need to upgrade our dikes, here in Langley and around the Lower Mainland.

A 2015 report to the provincial government found that almost every dike in the region was substandard in some way. Some simply weren’t built high enough for the maximum expected floods.

Others are eroded, or are seismically unstable, or they simply weren’t built correctly in the first place to withstand a rushing wall of water.

But upgrading dikes and ensuring we have sufficient pumping capacity is a near-term solution. That’s to protect the homes, businesses, roads, and schools that are already in place.

The climate crisis is not going away, but we don’t know exactly what it will do.

One report to the provincial government noted that based on historical data, B.C. is already seeing 22 per cent more rainfall than it was a hundred years ago.

By the middle of this century, precipitation is expected to increase by another six per cent. To make things worse, it won’t be evenly distributed – some regions, like the North Coast, will get a lot more rain. We might get less, here in the Lower Mainland – but what we do get will be more concentrated in the winter months.

In other words, that’s a recipe for the same kind of intense rainfall event that just caused our floods.

We don’t just need dikes. We need to preserve and expand, where possible, our wetlands, which act as a natural buffer against flooding. We need to build roads and railways strong enough to survive similar events. We need to stop building in some areas altogether. We have to admit that the cost of rebuilding, over and over, won’t be worth it.

Everything we build from now on in B.C. has to be built with the changing climate in mind. That means taking into account fire and flood. Because if we don’t, fire and flood will just take way what we’ve so painstakingly built.

– M.C.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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