Statement from the Lower Fraser Floodplains Coalition on BC’s new Flood Strategy

BC Flood Strategy: Good work that falls short on funding

On World Water Day, the Lower Fraser Floodplains Coalition congratulates the Province of British Columbia on the release of the BC Flood Strategy. The unique “sharing the pen” approach with eight Nations from major watersheds, including the Lower Fraser, was a good step towards reconciliation in action. While there is a lot to be encouraged by in the language and intentions of the Strategy, the Coalition is left with unanswered questions about dedicated funding and an Implementation Plan.    

We take Minister Cullen at his word: “After decades of piecemeal approaches to flood management, we have worked with communities to develop B.C.’s first integrated vision for provincial flood preparedness so we can keep people safe.”

Thus the Coalition was surprised to see a repurposing of $39 million from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) as investments in the Flood Strategy. While much needed, these are local projects that do not address the larger systemic issues identified in the Strategy. Unfortunately, yesterday’s announcement seemed to confirm the status quo, with communities competing to access scarce dollars for incredibly important flood resiliency work.

In the Lower Fraser, our Coalition has been working over the last two years to break down silos and advance understanding of shared flood risk in a changing climate. We’ve been convening First Nations, regional and local governments and find that they are ready to work together, and with nature, for resilient communities. We are encouraged to see similar objectives in the BC Flood Strategy. We look to Minister Cullen and the Province for the support and investments desperately needed for the collaborative work to manage the enormous flood risks across our populous and deeply interconnected region.

As we head into a summer with warnings of severe drought across much of the province, it is more important than ever to connect the dots on our relationships with water. Nature-based approaches to flood management carried out in integrated ways across floodplains and watersheds can increase the capacity of the landscape to store water, with benefits for fish, farmers, and communities. We are encouraged to see that the Strategy calls for holistic flood management, that it sets out a much greater role for nature-based measures, and that it recognizes First Nations as partners who have decision-making authority and deep knowledge and expertise about living resiliently with water in their territories.    


"This Strategy took a lot of intention and thought to get to this point, but a Strategy is only as good as its implementation, and that’s what we are keen to see. We appreciate that the Strategy aims for long-term resilience, but we note that there are also immediate actions such as flood risk assessments, flood modeling, and regional planning that are particularly important to First Nations communities, and these actions need to proceed without delay." Gillian Fuss, Program Manager at the Emergency Planning Secretariat and a founding member of the LFFC. 

“Commendable work went into developing the BC Flood Strategy. Addressing flooding, a significant climate threat, requires investing in preparedness and resilience rather than paying for costly recovery. Collaboration among local governments, First Nations, and the Lower Fraser Flood Coalition (LFFC) has been exemplary. While much of our input is reflected in the current strategy, securing committed, long-term funding is essential. Overcoming the challenge of piecemeal funding for flood preparedness and mitigation is critical. Shifting away from a lottery-based grant system is imperative for completing the vital work envisioned in this strategy.“   Jason Lum, Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District.

"The BC Flood Strategy is necessary for the province to plan for future flood events. As a farmer in the Fraser Valley, I am hopeful that this Strategy will provide more guidance on how we can better work with our neighbours, especially First Nations, who are taking strides in emergency management in our region. I hope farmers will be directly engaged in next steps to ensure sustainable food production can continue for generations to come." Holger Schwichtenberg, Fraser Valley dairy farmer.


About the Lower Fraser Floodplains Coalition

The Lower Fraser Floodplains Coalition is a collaborative group of B.C.-based organizations and experts with the shared goal of helping B.C.’s flood management efforts achieve the best possible outcomes. We offer support from a diverse range of interests, experience and networks, including Indigenous groups, conservationists, farmers, environmental legal specialists, researchers and natural resource professionals. We hope to see B.C. move towards a more holistic, collaborative approach to flood management that benefits people and other species, like salmon. Members: Emergency Planning Secretariat, Resilient Waters, Watershed Watch, West Coast Environmental Law, Ebbwater Consulting, UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Dave Zehnder, Zender Ranch, Patrick Lilley, KWL Consulting.


Gillian Fuss, Manager, Emergency Planning Secretariat | Cell: 778-951-3776

Jason Lum, Chair, Fraser Valley Regional District | Cell: 604-316-9639

Holger Schwichtenberg, Dairy Farmer | Cell: 604-316-1349