Province kicks in $4 million for Matsqui flood protection

Money to go toward $8 million plan to stop Fraser River from chewing into its southern banks.

The Fraser River is slowly chewing into its southern banks in Matsqui

The Fraser River is slowly chewing into its southern banks in Matsqui

A city plan to halt the erosion of the banks of the Fraser River at Matsqui Prairie is moving forward, with the provincial government announcing Monday that it would be contributing $4 million towards the project.

Last year, a study found the river’s strong currents were eating into its southern banks in Matsqui and causing “erosion arcs” that were slowly creeping towards the dikes in the area. If the pattern were to continue and breach the dikes, it could trigger a catastrophic flood.

The consultants that conducted the study recommended building an array of rock spurs under the water at the edge of the river to redirect the current away from the banks. The project was estimated to cost $8 million, and could be built over eight years.

In December, the city approved the plan, but the project required provincial or federal funding.

February’s provincial budget saw the province announce $55 million in emergency preparedness programs, with upgrades to dikes and flood protection measures at the top of the list. At the time Finance Minister Mike de Jong credited Abbotsford with raising the issue.

The funding announced Monday by Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson comes from that commitment. That money is already being spent, Gibson told council. “we are working on this as we speak.”

In a press release, Mayor Henry Braun said: “In undertaking this work, we are taking proactive steps to keep our community and our people safe.”