Changing climate to cost Abbotsford taxpayers millions

City must raise dikes, flood proof sites and boost water supply to respond to shifting climate

Although the city plans to spend some money up front to reduce its own emissions, the effects of ongoing climate change are expected to have a far greater impact on taxpayers over the coming decades.

This week, the city adopted a “green fleet” plan that will see electric vehicles and others with low emissions bought over time to replace gas- and diesel-guzzling cars and trucks. The plan will cost the city around $4 million over the next decade, but pay for itself by reducing Abbotsford’s annual $1.1 million fuel bill.

RELATED: Green fleet will cut emissions and costs, report says

But local taxpayers will have to pay far more over the next two decades in order to react to, and prepare for, the consequences of a change that is expected to continue to change thanks to greenhouse gas emissions.

Adapting to rising sea levels, drier summers and more extreme rainfall events are all projected to cost the city and province tens of millions of dollars over the coming decades.

As the city has created new plans for its growth over the coming decades, staffers have had to consider the cost of a world with a fast-changing climate. The Lower Mainland is expected to get hotter in the summer, while the very wettest days are predicted to be dramatically rainier, according to a 2016 Metro Vancouver report.

Those predictions were factored into the city’s new master plans for the city’s drainage, diking and waste-water systems.

Abbotsford might be some ways from the Pacific Ocean, but even a moderate sea-level change will force the city to spend millions more to floodproof its low-lying areas and valuable infrastructure.

RELATED: ‘Climate change in action:’ Scientist says fires in Alberta linked to climate change

RELATED: Canada may need higher carbon taxes to meet its Paris targets, PBO says

Modelling of Fraser River levels suggest that a sea-level rise of one metre will require dikes and other flood protections to be raised by a similar amount throughout the entire Fraser Valley.

In many areas, the dikes already need to be raised considerably just to meet provincial standards today.

Doing so is expected to cost more than $400 million, a tab city officials want the province to pay.

Meanwhile, the city also plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to floodproof land next to the JAMES water treatment plant to allow for future expansions. Doing so is expected to cost upwards of $47 million.

Like the dikes, some of that floodproofing is necessary even without a forecasted one-metre sea-level rise.

The river isn’t the only issue, though. The very wettest of days are expected to get 60 per cent wetter, according to a Metro Vancouver report.

That will challenge Abbotsford’s infrastructure in the future and should lead to changes in the next update of its development bylaw, according to the city’s new drainage master plan.

And mountain snowpacks are predicted to decrease by between 25 and 50 per cent. That could decrease the recharge rates in Abbotsford and Mission’s reservoirs, increase evaporation from the two sites, and also lead to a hike in demand for water over the summer months.

Higher temperatures and less rain in summer could also compromise the quality of the water, according to a 2017 report.

“The combination of these projected changes to annual and season precipitation patterns and increased temperatures may impact water quality due to increased streambank erosion and sediment accumulation.”

The one bright side is that higher overall precipitation rates could boost the region’s aquifers.

Those factors were all taken into account by staff who recommended the city plan to build a new $85 million collector well to increase Abbotsford and Mission’s total water supply.

“Overall, the performance of the existing sources adequately meets potable supply needs, however, there are limitations in the transmission system when providing MDD conditions today, and there is greater risk of insufficient supply (and transmission) into the future due to growth and climate change.”


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Abbots-FORD or Abbits-FERD?

Meme sparks debate over proper pronunciation of city’s name

Abbotsford Centre records busiest fall on record

Venue sees more than 48,000 guests and four sellouts from Sept. 14 to Nov. 3

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

UFV Theatre and School of Creative Arts present ART

Production opens Thursday, Nov. 14 at Abbotsford campus

Ware Street delays after two-car crash

Van and FedEx vehicle at Bourquin Way intersection

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Bill Murray dons iconic Hudson’s Bay scarf to watch Canucks game in Vancouver

Murray is in Vancouver to film The Now, a mini-series directed by Peter Farrelly

Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

B.C. government grappling with multiple labour disputes by public-sector unions

Public-sector unions may have expectations of a labour-friendly NDP government

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Most Read