Erosion on Fraser River may threaten Matsqui dyke

City of Abbotsford must push higher levels of government to repair riverbank

Erosion on the bank of the Fraser River has city of Abbotsford officials concerned.

Erosion on the bank of the Fraser River has city of Abbotsford officials concerned.

New erosion on the bank of the Fraser River near the Matsqui Dyke has become a critical situation, according to Abbotsford city staff.

Mayor Bruce Banman said the city must seek assistance from all levels of government to mitigate the impact of a new erosion arc that has formed on Matsqui Prairie after this year’s freshet.

Though there are three existing erosion arcs near Abbotsford, the new area is 30 metres from the Matsqui Dyke, raising concern about the impact on the barrier when water levels rise next spring. A report from city staff states that if repairs are not done, the situation could worsen and result in “large-scale damage to the dyke and our community.”

“We need to spare no effort in raising the alarm,” said Coun. Dave Loewen Monday evening.

Coun. John Smith said the issue is serious, as the integrity of the dyke – which protects Matsqui Prairie and the city from flooding when the river is high – may be threatened.

Council decided to to send letters to the province, First Nations, members of parliament, the prime minister’s office and other stakeholders, explaining the city’s concerns.

A site assessment indicated that new gravel accumulation in the river led to bank erosion.

The land is owned by the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. As the Fraser River is under the province’s jurisdiction, the city is calling on the province to remove gravel bars in the vicinity of Abbotsford to help prevent further erosion, and provide funding to repair the new damage. The city will also ask Transport Canada to regulate and reduce speed limits of river vessels to minimize the erosion and damage from boat wakes.

The city previously consulted Emergency Management BC to assist with damage caused by erosion, but the provincial agency said the situation doesn’t quality for funding because there is no immediate signs of an emergency.