Engineers to build large model of Fraser River to analyze erosion near Abbotsford

Project to be paid for with the last of provincial disaster-prevention grant money

Engineers will build a large scale-model of the Fraser River near Abbotsford to test possible solutions to erosion problems that have plagued the area for more than two decades.

The river has been eating away at its southern banks since the late 1990s, with new erosion “arcs” developing in 2015 and 2016. Over the last two years, the city has used $14 million of provincial money to try to stabilize the bank and prevent further erosion, which threatens the Matsqui Dike and the valuable farmland that lies beyond it. But with the Se:math First Nation and the City unable to agree on the placement of a new spur aimed at redirecting water, $700,000 originally slated for that project was left from two original grants.

With a deadline upcoming to use that money or return it to the province, the city now plans to hire an engineering firm to create a model of a 600-metre stretch of the river and produce a subsequent study. The province has signed off on the undertaking, which a city report says will provide evidence needed when officials decide upon a future long-term plan to address the erosion. A staff report says the modelling work will also “provide an essential avenue to continue to aid engagement with the First Nations that have a significant interest in the area.”

RELATED: Fight to stave off Fraser erosion continues

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A photo taken at the headquarters of Northwest Hydraulic Consultants shows a model that appears to be more than 100 square feet in size.

The large model will be used to present proposed rock spur plans to the city, First Nations, the Province and other stakeholders to understand the design of the plan and to get feedback, the report says.

The model and related study will cost $441,300, a figure completely covered by the grants from the province. The study is expected to be finished by the end of next January.

The city’s report on the study confirms that planners still see rock spurs as the likely route forward.

Mayor Henry Braun also said last week that the city will be asking for more grant money to pay for future work.

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