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City of Surrey to seek $46M in federal funding for floodplain improvements

Coastal projects funded in part by 2019 DMAF program already underway
Construction of a new King George Boulevard bridge across the Nicomekl River continues in South Surrey. The project is one of several that is funded in part by the federal government’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). Now the City of Surrey is hoping to secure more funding from the same program to support 11 flood-mitigation projects along the Nicomekl and Serpentine River floodplains, valued at a collective $116 million. (Geoffrey Yue photo)

With a number of projects already underway aimed at mitigating damage from coastal flooding related to climate change, the City of Surrey is now casting its eyes upstream.

Council on Monday (June 5) endorsed a report from engineering staff, recommending that the city apply for $46 million in funding through the 2023 Federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) to help protect both farmland and infrastructure within the Serpentine and Nicomekl River floodplains.

Four years ago, the city secured more than $76 million in federal funding through the same program, primarily to help tackle coastal flooding risks as sea levels rise.

Funded projects included construction of a new King George Boulevard bridge across the Nicomekl River, replacement of the Serpentine sea dam and construction of a ‘living dike’ along the Boundary Bay and Mud Bay shorelines.

Much of the work funded by the 2019 grant is currently underway, with a completion deadline set for the end of 2027.

READ ALSO: $76 million pledged for coastal flooding mitigation in Surrey and Delta

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The next set of 11 proposed projects, totalling $116 million, collectively aim to reduce the flood vulnerability caused by prolonged, high-volume rainfall events within the Nicomekl-Serpentine floodplain, the report to council notes.

“Over one hundred years ago, the farming community constructed two water control structures at the mouths of the Serpentine and Nicomekl rivers in the Surrey lowlands to reclaim fertile land for agriculture, provide a source of irrigation and provide transportation crossings for the Semiahmoo Trail,” the report reads.

“Since the construction of these water control structures, Surrey’s population has increased by 500,000 and significant infrastructure of local, regional and national importance has been built in low-lying areas behind these structures.”

Projects the city is seeking DMAF support to complete include the installation of pumps, dike improvements and replacement of two bridges.

Bridges slated for replacement are the 40th Avenue Nicomekl River Bridge and the 80th Avenue Serpentine River Bridge, at an estimated cost of $5 million each.

Additionally, the city is seeking to install new pumps on both the Serpentine and Nicomekl dams ($9 million each); make improvements to the Middle and Upper Serpentine River dikes ($15 million each); Fleetwood drainage pump station replacement/Serpentine-Bear Creek drainage conveyance improvements ($28 million); Graysons Creek drainage pump replacement ($4 million); Coast Meridian drainage pump station improvement and new access road ($15 million); 168 Street drainage pump station improvements and conveyance upgrades ($6 million) and; Nicomekl River sediment capture facility access road and flow bypass ($5 million)

Of the $116 million total cost, the request to the federal government would be $46 million (the 40 per cent share mandated by the program).

“The remaining $70 million is expected to be secured through a combination of the City’s Drainage

Utility and Transportation budgets along with Provincial funding,” the report notes.

Staff asked council to endorse the priority projects presented in the report, authorize Mayor Brenda Locke to send a letter to the provincial minister of public safety and solicitor general, as well as the minister of emergency management and climate readiness, supporting the application and direct staff to complete an application submission by the July 19 deadline.

Now that council has signed off, “staff will initiate discussions with the relevant Provincial Ministries,” the report reads.

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Brenda Anderson

About the Author: Brenda Anderson

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.
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