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Delta faces enormous cost to protect itself from flooding

Coastal storm surges and the Fraser River spring freshnet pose ongoing flood risks for the community
The Boundary Bay Construction Fill Pilot Project, which will receive provincial funding, includes upgrades to a section of dike along the Boundary Bay Dike Trail between 72nd and 88th streets. City of Delta image

The City of Delta faces a daunting task when it comes to protecting itself from being flooded.

That was the message from Engineering Director Steven Lan to council at their Committee of the Whole Meeting this Tuesday during a presentation on the city’s ongoing flood protection initiatives.

Despite the enormous costs and future risks, low-lying vulnerable areas are still waiting for a long-term funding strategy for dike upgrades from the provincial and federal governments. It makes sense to protect the vast agricultural area of Delta, he said, noting it’s the “breadbasket” for the region.

The province this week announced it is providing an additional $44 million through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, administered through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, to support projects that strengthen the resilience of B.C. First Nations and local governments in responding to and preparing for natural disasters and climate change. The City of Delta is getting $2 million for the Boundary Bay Construction Fill Pilot Dike Project.

However, Lan, noting they are looking for any funding sources available, reiterated the estimated cost to raise Delta’s 67-kilometres of dikes to current standards, as well as seismic upgrades, by 2100 stands at over $1.9 billion.

He noted the Fraser Basin Council recommends establishing a long-term funding program to support implementation of the Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy, but senior level government financial support is needed.

He suggested the municipality be prepared for any cost-share opportunities should they arise.

Some of the other current key projects in Delta include the Ladner Waterfront Flood Protection Strategy, the Living Dike Pilot Project at Boundary Bay, a River Road West flood protection plan, a strategy for Boundary Bay and Beach Grove, including a Beach Grove seawall assessment, the Chillukthan drainage pump station upgrades, a new 84th Street pump station and the Mason Culvert upgrades.

The city currently has $6.5 billion in private property and public infrastructure protected by Delta’s diking infrastructure, while the estimated damage by a major dike breach is anywhere from $1 billion-to-$3 billion, according to an engineering department report, adding about 53 per cent of Delta’s land mass is vulnerable to flooding.

The B.C. government is currently formulating a new flood strategy,

Providing feedback on the British Columbia Flood Strategy Intentions Paper, Metro Vancouver this year made a series of recommendations, including that the government establish long-term and predictable funding.