Pitt Meadows is working to create partnerships to help fund the millions of dollars needed to upgrade the city’s flood protection and diking system.
“Some of the drawings, if there is a flood, are pretty scary,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall Wednesday.
He said dikes and flood protection infrastructure across the Lower Mainland were built to a standard that does not measure up to new flooding models in rivers swelled by climate change and sea level rise. The dikes need to be higher to keep the water out, and in order to withstand earthquakes, the dikes need to be wider.
“There needs to be further investment,” said Dingwall.
He noted the cost to do the upgrades is approximately $100 million, which the city cannot afford.
But the city may not be able to afford not to do the work, or spend the money. A breach or overtopping of the dikes could result in losses of $725 million. A regional flood would result in an estimated $30 billion in economic loss.
Some 86 per cent of the land in Pitt Meadows is flood plain.
A Lower Mainland dike assessment found 69 per cent of the dikes in the region were in poor to fair condition, 18 per cent were unacceptable to poor and 13 per cent were fair to good. Most were constructed in the 1970s to 1980s.
Dingwall and senior staff members have been meeting with representatives of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Basin Council. They put a power point in front of Metro mayors two weeks ago, and the mayors committee came out strongly in favour of a regional and collaborative approach to flood mitigation.
Samantha Maki, the city director of engineering and operations, noted Pitt Meadows’ dike network also protects Maple Ridge, and said the Katzie First Nation is not protected by the dike system.
“So we are very much interconnected with our neighbouring communities, which is true along the Fraser River, so that’s why it is important to establish a collaborative approach,” she said.
She noted the Metro mayor’s committee endorsed a collaborative approach between all levels of government, and referred the strategy to their staff for recommendations.
Dingwall said Metro will now plan for infrastructure upgrades and funding.