The province has pledged $3.2 million for upgrades to the Barrowtown pump station in Abbotsford that was overwhelmed during the November 2021 flooding on Sumas Prairie, part of a collaborative approach to flood mitigation in the region.
But it remained mum on commitments to a new Sumas River pump station, projected to cost $800 million, which has been prioritized as part of the Abbotsford’s comprehensive flood mitigation strategy.
Instead, Emergency Management and Climate Readiness minister Bowinn Ma said a collaborative approach is needed to address the potential impacts on Indigenous lands.
“When we change the flow of the water through the Sumas River or Fraser Valley, Indigenous reserves can impacted,” Ma said during the press conference in response to Country Life in BC. “We have to understand the impacts so that we’re not making decisions that will impact First Nations without their participation in those decisions.”
The funding for Barrowtown, as well as $5.3 million for nine other flood mitigation projects, was announced as part of the launch of the Sumas River Flood Mitigation Collaborative Framework, which include representatives from the province, the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack and the Semá:th, Matsqui and Leq’á:mel First Nations. The project’s steering committee will be backed by $4 million in provincial funding.
Technical teams within the agriculture ministry will represent farmers’ interests.
“The Minister of Agriculture, Pam Alexis, and her team are part of this collaborative effort. Their technical teams are working very closely with the steering committee,” Ma says.
Alexis declined to comment on how farmers’ interests will be protected.
The flooding in November 2021 impacted 62 dairy farms, and resulted in the loss of 600,000 head of livestock and poultry.