River at risk from climate change: business groups


More frequent floods could threaten 300,000 people’s homes and $50 billion worth of property, according to a report on future threats to the Fraser River.

The report by the region’s chambers of commerce identifies a host of issues that could hit B.C.’s most important river over the coming decades.

The population of the floodplain area, which includes parts of northern Langley and its neighbours, are dependent on 600 km of dikes, 400 flood boxes, and 100 pump stations, said the report.

If a record-setting flood reoccured along the river, it could cause tens of billions of dollars worth of damages immediately. Damaged road and rail lines and energy conduits could impact exports and imports for even longer.

“Scientists predict that there is a one-in-three chance that a flood of similar magnitude to the record floods along the Lower Fraser will occur within the next 50 years,” the report said.

The record floods hit in 1894 and 1948, and both floods turn the village of Fort Langley into an island surrounded by water. During those floods, the Lower Mainland was relatively sparsely populated and had relatively few paved roads. A flood of that amount today that overtopped dikes would affect many more people.

The report calls for major protective improvements to avoid the cost of flood damages.

Rising sea levels caused by climate change could make the situation worse.

The report says 100-year flood events on the Fraser could now occur as often as every four to 10 years.

“Climate change will increase the risk of flooding in both the Fraser Valley and the tidal portions of the river,” said the report. The river is tidal as far inland as Langley.

The cost of upgrading flood defenses and dredging along the Lower Fraser River is estimated at $9.5 billion. Of that, $8.8 billion would impact the tidal parts of the Lower Fraser below the Port Mann Bridge.

The report also says not enough is being done to dredge sediment that accumulates in the Lower Fraser every year.

“This report found that Fraser River communities such as Langley would face catastrophic impacts in the event of flooding,” said Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce president Kristine Simpson. “This report paints a very clear picture that, with risks of this magnitude, our communities need to partner with government and major stakeholders to find solutions now.”

“The Lower Fraser River has significant economic importance to the entire lower mainland region,” said Simpson. “That includes jobs, economic activity, and tax revenue to local, provincial and federal governments. Our very existence as a community would be threatened if those are impacted.”

Lower Mainland chambers of commerce will host a forum on the risks to the Lower Fraser River this fall in Surrey, meeting with various government and First Nations representatives.

Just Posted

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Man found guilty of murder of Good Samaritan

Brad McPherson was murdered at a party early on the morning of Christmas Eve 2011.

Langley lacrossers roughed up 22-12 during Calgary stopover

Next Saturday, Feb. 24, the team hosts a Vancouver Stealth Experience, inviting guests on the floor.

Aldergrove welcomes new Community Association

Several dozen attend introductory meeting of new Aldergrove Community Association

Langley City honours volunteers who give so much

At least 200 people came together Thursday to be recognized and thanked by the City of Langley.

VIDEO: Widen the freeway now, Langley chamber insists

Business advocates describe cancelling bridge tolls and highway expansion as ‘disappointing.’

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

One dead after targeted shooting in Coquitlam

IHIT also asking for information about a car on fire nearby

Reports of money laundering in B.C. real estate ‘troubling’: attorney general

News report alleges people connected to fentanyl trade are using B.C. real estate to launder money

Heavy snowfall warning continues

Kelowna - Expect snow in the Okanagan, Southern Interior and the Kootenays

VIDEO: Injury-riddled Vancouver Giants find a way to edge Edmonton Oil Kings

Giants win 2-1 at home despite missing four key defencemen from lineup

RCMP member challenges court to prevent further disciplinary action

RCMP member launches appeal to avoid new hearing over alleged harassment

Most Read