The Government of British Columbia announced that people in Sqwá First Nation, Shxwhá:y Village and Chilliwack will be better protected from flooding with shoreline stabilization to complement a new dike project along the Fraser River.

“People across British Columbia have seen first-hand the impacts of climate change,” said Premier David Eby. “We have endured atmospheric rivers, a heat dome and record seasons of forest fires. In the Fraser Valley and elsewhere, we have seen the devastating impacts of flooding. The work we are funding today will protect people and help recognize Indigenous Peoples as true partners and leaders in emergency management.”

The Province’s investment of $5 million in riprap erosion control measures for shoreline stabilization will help ensure protection for people, businesses and infrastructure currently at risk. This work also allows the new dike project to move forward after a study recommended them to better protect the communities. Engineering designs for the shoreline stabilization will begin immediately and construction will begin in 2024.

“Our communities are under consistent threat of flooding and without effective flood mitigation and protection measures, it becomes increasingly difficult for our nations to secure a sustainable future for our lands and people. This commitment from the Province toward critical shoreline protection will not only help safeguard our culture, traditions and way of life, but it will also help enhance the safety and well-being of our neighbours in the City of Chilliwack,” said Chief Lara Mussell, Sqwá First Nation.

The new dike project will consist of eight kilometres of new dikes, a new floodgate structure crossing the Hope Slough and a new drainage pump system. The new dike project is funded by $45 million from Infrastructure Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, with contributions of $13 million from Indigenous Services Canada and $7 million from the City of Chilliwack.

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“The climate crisis will continue to increase the risk of flooding here in British Columbia, and we’re committed to supporting First Nations and local governments in mitigating and preparing for flooding emergencies,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “This funding allows for immediate action to be taken to address erosion issues, allowing the planning and construction of the long-term dike project. We are grateful for the leadership provided by Sqwá First Nation, Shxwhá:y Village and the City of Chilliwack in this critical work.”

The Province has invested a total of $147 million in flood risk reduction projects since 2017 with First Nations, local governments and other agencies. Most recently, the Province provided $23.4 million to 49 communities for disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation projects, including $150,000 for a drainage pump station upgrade design in Chilliwack. The British Columbia Flood Strategy, to be released this year, will strengthen flood risk governance, enhance flood preparedness, response and recovery, and further invest in flood resilience.

“This funding is most welcomed as we witness and experience the continued impacts of climate change. This provincial support not only allows us to be better prepared here at home in our community of Shxwhá:y, but enables us to work with our neighbouring communities and municipal partners. This funding commitment is a bridge-building step in the continued building and support of reconciliation,” said Chief Robert Gladstone, Shxwhá:y Village.

Featured image: People in Sqwá First Nation, Shxwhá:y Village and Chilliwack will be better protected from flooding with shoreline stabilization to complement a new dike project along the Fraser River.

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