Metro backs Abbotsford’s call for aid to stop erosion

City fears new damage could threaten the Matsqui dike

Metro Vancouver has backed Abbotsford's call for aid in fixing the erosion arc that has manifested this year at Matsqui Trail Regional Park.

Metro Vancouver has backed Abbotsford's call for aid in fixing the erosion arc that has manifested this year at Matsqui Trail Regional Park.

Metro Vancouver has placed its support behind Abbotsford’s call for provincial aid to help stop erosion on the banks of the Fraser River that could threaten the Matsqui dike.

An erosion arc formed this year in Matsqui Trail Regional Park – land owned by Metro Vancouver. The river has three erosion arcs that existed previously, but Abbotsford council raised the concern in September that the new erosion had come within 30 metres of the Matsqui dike. City consultants recommended new measures to protect it before next spring’s freshet.

As the Fraser River is under provincial jurisdiction, the city has called on the province to remove gravel bars in the vicinity of Abbotsford to help prevent more erosion and for funding to repair the new damage.

Besides protecting land from flooding, the dike forms the backbone of the park and creates the 11-kilometre Matsqui Trail corridor shared by the Trans Canada Trail and the Experience The Fraser Canyon-to-Coast Trail.

“People are going to experience the Fraser alright – right through their front doors if we don’t do something about this,” Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told a recent Metro environment and parks committee meeting.

Banman told The News that Metro Vancouver’s endorsement for aid is important to fixing for problem.

“Whenever you have everybody agreeing, the likelihood of the proper outcome is much higher.”

He said there is a strong spring freshet next year, the results could be dramatic.

“We’re worried it could undermine the dike. It could collapse and fall into the water and we will get flooding into some of the most valuable farmland in Canada.”

Though the request for provincial assistance was endorsed by Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal said any work along the river needs to avoid damaging salmon habitat.

The city previously consulted Emergency Management BC to assist with erosion damage, but the provincial agency said the situation did not qualify for funding because there is no immediate emergency.

Abbotsford will continue to seek assistance from all levels of government before next spring, while water levels are low.

“This is now a case of saving and protecting the integrity of the dike, and for that we will need provincial and federal help.”