Dikes protecting Abbotsford along the Vedder Canal and Fraser River need to be raised and stabilized, but doing so is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. (Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)

Dike bill rises by $30 million, but city says feds and province need to pay

Engineers say upgrading Abbotsford’s dikes to meet provincial standards will cost nearly $450 million

The cost to rebuild Abbotsford’s dikes so that they meet provincial seismic standards will be even steeper than previously thought.

It had already been known that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fully upgrade the city’s dikes to be sturdy enough and high enough to protect against a record flood. A previous city plan had roughly pegged the cost at $415 million.

Although that sum would be more than double the city’s entire annual budget, a deeper look at the problem has revealed the cost of protecting Abbotsford’s low-lying areas is likely to be even higher.

Engineers contracted by the city have now found that dike reconstruction would be required, pushing the estimated cost to $446 million. That work would see the dikes removed, the ground beneath them improved, and then the dikes rebuilt.

It would be cheaper, the engineers found, to build a new Matsqui dike 250 metres away from the Fraser River. But while that could save an estimated $60 million, some of that money would have to go to buying new land.

A relocated Matsqui dike would also fail to protect the city’s JAMES wastewater treatment plant. Staff, thus, recommended using the larger sum as they make long-term plans.

Previous studies have found that a major flood similar to, or bigger than, that which occurred in 1894 could do billions of dollars worth of damage to the Fraser Valley’s economy.

But Abbotsford can’t, and shouldn’t, pay the cost to fix and raise the dikes, the city’s politicians declared at Monday’s council meeting, which also saw council approve its contributions towards the Fraser Basin Council’s latest work on a regional flood management strategy.

RELATED: Million-dollar plan to fix sinkhole near wastewater plant

RELATED: More than $1 billion in Fraser Valley agriculture at risk from flooding

Coun. Dave Loewen said the city has been paying “more than our share,” and “should not have paid a red cent” towards recent dike upkeep and improvements.

Loewen took issue with the wording of the city’s input into response to the Fraser Basin Council that declared the city would be “seeking” 100 per cent funding from federal and provincial governments.

“I have trouble with the word ‘seeking,’” Loewen said. “I think it should be ‘Abbotsford expects.’”

Loewen also suggested that the city may have “painted ourselves into a corner” by including the cost of the projects in its long-term capital planning for Abbotsford’s diking and drainage system.

Mayor Henry Braun said he agreed with Loewen, and said any work to create a regional river-management body will be doomed without first figuring out who will pay for the cost of improving the Lower Mainland’s dikes.

“I just think we’re going to create another regional authority that is going to have their own set of meetings and investigations and we will be talking about this same topic five and 10 years down the road and that deeply concerns me,” he said. “What we need now is action, not more studies, not more regional authorities. What we need is more leadership at the senior level.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UFV offers mental-health screenings as part of Beyond the Blues

Activities at event from Jan. 27-31 include stress bingos and colouring

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

City plots plan to get more affordable housing built as rental crunch continues

Abbotsford’s rental vacancy rate was 1.3 per cent in 2019; New affordable housing strategy considered

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read