Media Release: Flood recovery groups call for building back better, take their message to UBCM
The Emergency Planning Secretariat, with technical support from the Build Back Better, Together collaborative have released a new report that discusses the next steps needed to prepare for future extreme flooding events in the lower mainland. Build Back Better, Together: Flood Recovery, Resilience and Reconciliation in the Lower Fraser outlines key conversations and recommendations include a commitment for lower Fraser Nations and their neighbouring municipalities to come together more frequently to build respectful relationships, long term resilience, and advance reconciliation through flood recovery and adaptation.
A key barrier identified by delegates at the forum were the challenges of navigating the provincial funding policies and programs in a timely and efficient way. The report was the result of two forums held in April and July organized by the collaborative in Abbotsford on Semá:th territory at the epicenter of the November, 2021 floods. The forums were attended by Minister of Public Safety Canada, Bill Blair and BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, key lower Fraser Nation leaders and elected officials from numerous municipalities across the lower mainland.
“Collaboration was a strong theme for the day as was agreement to ensure reducing risk, adapting to climate change, advancing reconciliation, salmon-values and sustainable, resilient economies underlined flood recovery and future disaster planning,” said Tyrone McNeil, Sto:lo Tribal Chief and chair of the Emergency Planning Secretariat.
The forum focused on building back better, a simple yet powerful concept that encourages communities to learn from their experiences and address vulnerabilities and inequities to better prepare for the future. Examples of this approach in the lower mainland are wide ranging and could include upgrading flood control structures to improve passage for salmon, setting back dikes to give the river room to flood and restoring wetlands. All of this must be ensconced within a framework of trust, respect and good governance as demonstrated through the forums.
“Canada has committed $5.1 billion towards recovery, so as we rebuild from the devastating November, 2021 floods, we have the opportunity to build safer, more resilient communities,” said Deborah Carlson from West Coast Environmental Law. “The principles discussed at the forum ensure this work is grounded in respectful relationships with each other and the ecosystems we depend on.”
“Following the forum a series of key next steps have been identified. There is an immediate need to improve recovery funding criteria to allow for building back better, not building back to what was,” said Tamsin Lyle, Principal at Ebbwater Consulting and partner on the BBBT collaborative.
The findings and next steps from the forum will be taken to the Union of B.C. Municipalities AGM (UBCM) on September 12, 2022.
“There are a number of flood and climate change related resolutions, so clearly this is a very timely and top of mind issue for many municipalities across the province.” said Lina Azeez from Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “Some resolutions to look out for at UBCM 2022 include EB34 “Build Back Better” Funding for Critical Infrastructure ; EB35 Funding Model for Emergency Management Responsibilities ; and NR28 Support Flood Recovery that Creates Safe Communities.”
Tyrone McNeil, Sto:lo Tribal Chief and Chair of the Emergency Planning Secretariat
Deborah Carlson, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
Tamsin Lyle, PEng, Principal, Ebbwater Consulting
Lina Azeez, Habitat Programs Director, Watershed Watch Salmon Society