British Columbia

Risk of devastating flood in B.C. rising says study

A new study says the risk of a devastating flood in British Columbia's Lower Mainland is increasing due to rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.

Major flood along the coast or Fraser River could be most costly natural disaster in Canadian history

Fraser River flood waters surround houses in Chilliwack, B.C. Thursday, June 28, 2012. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A new study says the risk of a devastating flood in British Columbia's Lower Mainland is increasing due to rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.

The Fraser Basin Council says a major flood along the coast or the Fraser River could be the most costly natural disaster in Canadian history, with potential losses of about $32 billion.

The group says in its report that flood risks are projected to worsen over the next 85 years, both in size and frequency.

The report notes dikes in the Lower Mainland were constructed in the 1970s and '80s and says 71 per cent of those assessed could fail if either the Fraser River or the coast floods, and that only four per cent of the barriers meet provincial standards for crest height.

"There's a pressing need for climate change adaptation in how we plan communities, and the diking system is no exception," said Colin Hansen, chairman of the Fraser Basin Council. 

"We have to approach flood protection to address the new reality."

The B.C. government has announced $1 million in funding to develop a flood action plan for the region.

A protection strategy will be created through 2016 and 2018, and the implementation will start in 2018.

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