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Faster Action Needed on Flood Protection for East Fraser Lands, Says Expert

Investing in coastal protection now would save in long run

A map showing the East Fraser Lands development area, which hazard expert John J Clague says is part of a floodplain
along the Fraser that needs increased protection as climate change causes impact from flooding to worsen.
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Reported by Amanda Poole

Significant improvements need to be made to dikes along the Fraser River as flooding threatens the East Fraser Lands development, according to an expert.

Inherent Risk

Natural hazard expert John J. Clague said that improvements to these dikes have not been made since 1948, which puts the area at risk of flooding at any time.

“Building on floodplains is inherently sketchy to begin with. They call them floodplains for a very good reason: they flood,” Clague said.

Although planning for the area has been underway since 2002, a report from the City of Vancouver last year requires buildings at EFL to be designed with a flood construction level of 4.8 meters, higher than city-wide requirements for flood construction levels. Two buildings and some rail infrastructure on site don’t match this standard, putting them at risk of potential flood damage.

City on Schedule

Angela Danyluk, a sustainability specialist with the City of Vancouver, said sea levels or a major storm are not expected to raise the waters more than one meter before 2100.

“We have time to be careful and thoughtful and have the right information on the table to make the right decisions. The work is occurring at the right pace,” Danyluk said.

The City of Vancouver’s engineering department said it was too early to comment on the plans for flood mitigation.

“The City of Vancouver is still in the broader planning and consultation phase to determine the best flood management and adaptation options for the city to withstand rising sea levels in the future,” they said in an email to The Voice.

Action Unlikely

But according to Clague, proactively building a proper dike system to withstand climate change would be more cost effective than waiting for loss and damage to occur.

“The amount of infrastructure that is at risk on the floodplain is far, far in excess of any investment that you might make in improving our diking system,” Clague said.

“We have postponed the problem to where the only improvement is to strength and height the dikes, and it’s very very expensive which is why there has been no rush to do it.”

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