EDITORIAL: Before the flood

A blueprint for deliberate, planned upgrades would aim to avoid a repeat of 2007, when the Fraser threatened to flood parts of the Fraser Valley. - Black Press file
A blueprint for deliberate, planned upgrades would aim to avoid a repeat of 2007, when the Fraser threatened to flood parts of the Fraser Valley.
— image credit: Black Press file

Two announcements yesterday underlined just how important the Fraser River is to the local economy and why it’s vital more steps be taken to prevent flooding.

A new report commissioned by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with other chambers in the region, warns a massive flood would cause tens of billions of dollars in damage and catastrophic losses for the 300,000 residents of the floodplain, as well as business and industry.

As well, the Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy wants an action plan to begin the process of raising dikes and improving other flood defences in the years ahead.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba were recently hit with severe flooding and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley could see flood damage in the future. In fact, recent studies by the province project that  major floods will be more frequent and severe as a result of climate change.

Richmond, being below sea level to begin with, already has an extensive diking system. However, with global weather patterns taking a turn to the extreme in recent years, cities on floodplains cannot take flooding for granted. Look at what happened in Calgary and many parts of normally dry Alberta last year, when the Bow River swelled past its banks.

While Richmond may be prepared for flooding, many dikes in the Fraser Valley are not high enough. But if Fraser Valley dikes are strengthened, that means more water will be being directed at Richmond. That’s why a co-ordinated strategy is essential.

It’s good that business groups and government are taking a proactive approach at a potential future risk. Let’s hope senior governments put their money where there mouths are in doing upgrades now, rather than throwing money at cleaning up a disaster zone in the future.

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