Media Release: Minister joins Lower Fraser Nations and local governments for flood recovery forum
Building Back Better Together forum to set stage for spending billions in recovery dollars
ABBOTSFORD — On July 14, a forum will tackle flood recovery investment in B.C. The Building Back Better Together forum will be attended by Minister Farnworth, 31 lower Fraser Nations and 35 local governments.
With support from Emergency Management BC, Indigenous Services Canada and Public Safety Canada, this forum has been convened to find common ground around high level principles of building back better, together. These principles are based on the UN Sendai Framework that Canada and B.C signed on to but have yet to implement in funding programs or through policy. The forum also seeks to build back better in a way that upholds B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
“We are looking for willing partners, those who want to think 100 years into the future and align building back with indigenous reconciliation,” said Tyrone McNeil, chair of the First Nations Emergency Planning Secretariat and president of Sto:lo Nation, a co-host of this forum. “We need to look at risk differently by incorporating climate change adaptation and resiliency that better aligns with our world view.”
“At the same time as they invest in flood management, the governments of B.C. and Canada are putting hundreds of millions of dollars into Pacific salmon recovery,” said Lina Azeez of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, a coordinating member for the forum. “All that money and effort for salmon will be wasted if they spend billions of dollars on archaic flood control systems that kill salmon, and block off and destroy their critical habitats.”
Jason Lum, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District, City of Chilliwack councillor and forum co-host, stressed the importance of the involvement of local governments.
“This is an opportunity to build high level consensus about guiding principles for building back better,” said Lum. “Local governments are on the front lines of these issues and they must be part of the conversation on what is truly needed in their communities.”
“Flooding is an essential part of a healthy natural river ecosystem,” said Tamsin Lyle of Ebbwater Consulting, a coordinating member of the forum, “Flooding becomes an issue when we place our communities in the floodplain, relying on inadequate infrastructure solutions, which can fail catastrophically, as seen in November last year.”
“With an investment in building back better, we can leverage the natural defences of the floodplain to protect communities and our livelihoods.”
Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, Chair, First Nations Emergency Planning Secretariat
Jason Lum, Chair, Fraser Valley Regional District