An engagement session for dairy producers scheduled for January 17 promised an opportunity for farmers to provide feedback on evolving flood mitigation work in the Fraser Valley.
The session was called off because of weather and will be rescheduled to give producers current information on work by government and non-profits towards flood mitigation and resiliency strategies, with feedback welcomed on what the potential strategies may mean for farm operations in flood risk areas.
Speaking at the Mainland Milk Producers annual general meeting on January 12, Conservative MP Brad Vis, who represents Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, told association members that flood mitigation begins with bolstering infrastructure.
“We can’t do anything here in Abbotsford until we get the Sumas pump station and the Barrowtown pump station in a better capacity to protect you as producers in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, so we can handle another big disaster,” he said. “We haven’t seen the requisite investments through DFAA [Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements] and the corresponding provincial programs to see that work go ahead.”
While approximately $230 million has been announced provincewide in the past couple of years for flood mitigation and infrastructure-related investments, Abbotsford’s request for funding to upgrade its pump stations has yet to get a hearing.
“It is my duty to continue going to Ottawa and demanding that those objectives, those applications, from the city of Abbotsford especially, are met,” Vis said, pledging to press federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay for the funding required.
“We won’t have good food produced here if we have another flood,” Vis said. “People are going to go under.”
Provincial agriculture minister Pam Alexis told the meeting that BC allocated $20 million to Fraser Valley flood mitigation last year to help farms and communities prepare for the future.
She also called out the province’s extreme weather preparedness program, which has awarded funding to 30 dairy farms to date and will reopen to a fresh round of applicants this month.
“I know you will continue to be resilient and rise in the face of these challenges,” Alexis told farmers, pledging her personal support. “It’s my job to support BC farmers, and it’s a job I take seriously.”
STORY UPDATED JANUARY 28, 2024