Repair of Abbotsford dike breached in 2021 B.C. flood to finish this month: minister

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — B.C. Emergency Preparedness Minister Mike Farnworth says permanent repairs to a dike in Abbotsford that was breached by a swollen river during last year's catastrophic floods are expected to be complete by the end of this month.

Farnworth says the provincial government has dedicated $1.6 million to the Sumas dike project, as he gave an update on recovery progress ahead of the one-year anniversary of what he called "one of the most devastating weather events in the history of our province."

He says 500 debris sites have been cleared and the province has also approved more than $41 million in funding to repair and restore sites along waterways in the Fraser Valley, while a total $24.6 million in disaster financial assistance payments have been made.

An Indigenous-led collaborative, meanwhile, called for better accountability from the B.C. government for the use of a $5-billion recovery fund, saying there's little information about how the federal transfer is being spent.

The Build Back Better Together Collaborative says it is encouraged by the province's public consultations on flood strategy, but a statement from the group says the remainder of the fund should be dedicated to its own approaches.

They include redesigning programs and regulations to boost regional co-operation on flood-resilient infrastructure and creating a watershed security fund that would direct some of the federal recovery dollars to strengthening B.C.'s natural flood defences.

Farnworth says the province is working with the collaborative and has a number of initiatives underway in partnership with First Nations.

"First off is the complete overhaul of the Emergency Program Act in the province of British Columbia," he said, adding that 15 per cent of the federal recovery fund is dedicated to "building back better."

The federal government provided the fund last December, just weeks after an intense rainstorm washed away highways, swelled area rivers and overwhelmed dikes in the low-lying Fraser Valley, inundating key agricultural land around Abbotsford.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press