The projected cost of Abbotsford’s recovery from the November floods is as much as $120 million, but future upgrades to the diking system and other infrastructure could run as high as $3 billion.
A staff report to council on Monday (Feb. 28) provided an update on flood recovery and a look at the future through the city’s Build Back Better Plan.
The report indicates that as of Feb.18, the city has submitted a total of 148 expenditure authorization forms to Emergency Management BC (EMBC) totalling just over $39 million, of which EMBC covers 100 per cent.
These projects include road and landslide repairs, debris management, emergency dike repairs, emergency sediment removal and emergency support services.
Another $60 million has been requested through BC Disaster Financial Aid, which covers up to 80 per cent of eligible damages (to a maximum of $300,000). It is anticipated that the city will have to cover the other 20 per cent.
These projects include repairs to bridges, dikes, parks, trails, roads, the water supply and more.
Mayor Henry Braun pointed out that because all the assessments of needed work haven’t been complete, the almost $100 million needed so far could rise by as much as another $20 million.
But he said this funding only brings city infrastructure back to pre-flood levels.
“The piece that will probably curl everybody’s hair is the amount of money that it will take to build it back to a point that it meets the provincial standards of all three dikes. That is approaching $3 billion – that’s with a ‘B’ – and staff is working very hard to finalize that plan, which will then go out to the public and, in particular, all property owners – which is mostly farmers, but not exclusively – for input,” he said.
Braun said the public will be provided with several options for consideration and that the city is “not that far away” from presenting them.
In terms of future funding, council voted to submit a resolution to the Lower Mainland Government Management Association to be considered for submission at the 2022 convention for the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September.
The resolution states that the province has found that extreme-weather events will worsen across B.C. in coming years, and that the province has been working closely with local governments to respond and plan for disaster mitigation.
The resolution further states that the provincial government include “robust and sustainable ‘building back better’ funding at 100 per cent as part of the first phase of the updated EPA (Emergency Program Act) legislation in 2022.”
Braun said senior-government funding is crucial because the city will be unable to fund the $3 billion through local taxes.
“There needs to be some legislative changes, and I’m cautiously optimistic that the province will in fact do that,” he said.
Council was told that the flood-recovery process is expected to take two to three years.
According to the flood recovery plan update presented to Abbotsford council on Feb. 28:
• 165 km of city roads were inspected and 84 sites had damage
• 31 bridges were inspected and 13 were damaged
• there were 21 landslides across the city
• 1,100 properties were placed on evacuation order
• one cemetery and 19 city parks/trails were damaged
• debris such as hay bales, tires, scrap metal and sediment were strewn across Sumas Prairie
• there were nine dike breaches and erosion sites, the largest being a 100-metre stretch between Marion and No. 4 roads
• 1,100 metres of water-main damage was sustained along South Parallel and No. 4 roads