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Abbotsford South hopefuls squabble after Conservative president's comments on Sumas Lake

Comments from the B.C. Conservative Party president on the future of a significant part of Abbotsford spun local politicians into a frenzy last week.
Sumas Lake before it was drained in the early 1920s.

Comments from the B.C. Conservative Party president on the future of a significant part of Abbotsford spun local politicians into a frenzy last week.

Aisha Estey, the president of the provincial conservatives, responded to a question related to a recent UBC report that stated allowing the Sumas Prairie area to turn back into a lake is necessary due to a number of factors related to climate change.

The report suggested that it makes better economic sense due to the immense cost of repairing dikes and building a new pump station. Estey agreed with the study.



"I think long term, this is probably the most cost-effective, this managed retreat," she said on CBC Radio last week."The insurance implications of fighting ongoing flooding would be astronomical, so we definitely need to start making some different decisions there and pulling buildings back and getting buildings out of the way of destruction."

Those comments were almost immediately pounced upon by both the BC United and BC NDP.

B.C. Premier David Eby said he was "flabbergasted" by Estey's comments

"This is the latest in a flood of policy decision's brought forward by John Rustad's party," he said. "I think it's a very bad decision and it will impact food prices for British Columbians. It will hurt farmers with dramatically higher costs and they won't be able to farm anymore if it's underwater, obviously."



Markus Delves, the BC United candidate for Abbotsford South (where the Sumas Prairie is located) released a video to his social media last week stating that his party would protect the farmland.

"Flooding the Sumas would require the displacement of countless multi-generational families, would cause a significant loss of prime agricultural land in BC and it would significantly reduce our dairy, poultry and egg production."

Delves added that his party is not confused on this issue and they would protect local farmers and provide flood infrastructure.



Abbotsford South MLA and Conservative Party member Bruce Banman then responded with a video of his own on social media. He disagreed with the plan to flood Sumas Lake, calling it "crazy".

"As the MLA for this area, I will do whatever it takes to protect this so it remains farmland," he said. "I will, as your MLA for this area, protect the right to farm this because if we want independence from the United States and other countries we've got to grow our own food."

Banman also responded to a post from Delves, stating that farmers know that he has their back. He added that he doesn't agree with Etsey, but that she is entitled to her opinion.


The NDP has yet to announce a candidate in the Abbotsford South riding.

The provincial election is set for Oct. 19.

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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