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A 'living dike' coming to Surrey, Delta

The minister has granted an exemption order under the Environmental Assessment Act
An exemption order allows a reviewable project to proceed without requiring an environmental assessment certificate. Exemptions are formally requested by project proponents and are only issued in rare cases.

A major portion of an innovative “living dike” project can proceed without having to go through an environmental assessment process.

The B.C. government has announced that the minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has determined that the Mud Bay Nature-Based Foreshore Enhancement project will not require an environmental assessment certificate to move forward.

The City of Surrey's Mud Bay project involves building a nature-based form of flood protection known as a living dike. The project aims to elevate the existing salt marsh to mitigate coastal flooding, reduce wave energy and enhance biodiversity.

While the project met the threshold to require an environmental assessment certificate, a formal request for exemption was submitted by the City of Surrey, the province explained.

Following review of the exemption request and consultation with First Nations, technical advisors and the public, as well as addressing concerns raised by the federal government regarding the marine environment, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) recommended the project be exempt from an environmental assessment as it poses minimal risk of significant adverse effects.

The project also includes a section within the City of Delta. According to the engineering department, the footprint of Delta’s pilot project was not as big as Surrey, so Delta’s site did not trigger a full environmental assessment under the BC Environmental Assessment Act.

Also called the Boundary Bay Foreshore Enhancement Project, the project “will establish a gentle, raised slope of sediment and vegetation placed in the seaward face of a traditional dike, mimicking the natural salt marsh and mudflats along Boundary Bay. There are many parts of Boundary Bay that have a natural salt marsh and this pilot project intends to expand those areas,” a news release by Delta last year explained.

A 25-linear metre section of raised salt marsh will be built at the foreshore of Boundary Bay near 96 Street.

The salt marsh is hoped to be able to absorb wave energy, reducing the overall wave height that will assist in possibly lengthening the timelines for dike raising activities, according to Delta.

The project is in partnership with the City of Surry and Semiahmoo First Nation, and is funded by the federal government under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaption Fund.