Stó:lō Territories / CHILLIWACK, B.C. (Nov. 10, 2023) _ Two years after catastrophic flooding from atmospheric rivers throughout the Lower Fraser region and other parts of British Columbia, a new report by the Lower Fraser Floodplains Coalition (LFFC) says the region needs focussed, regional collaboration for action matched with access to promised federal recovery funding, and long-term, stable investments in resilience.
The report shares dialogue and insights from a day-long regional gathering on June 9th that brought together leaders from 14 First Nations, 20 local governments, two regional governments, senior staff from 10 Provincial and Federal agencies, including Minister Bowinn Ma from the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, as well as Robert Phillips from the First Nations Summit, and five agricultural associations, among them the BC Agricultural Council. In all, 122 people attended in-person, and 30 online. It was the second such gathering.
The report identifies three areas of focus for strategic action over the next two to three years and makes 20 specific recommendations. Among them:
- Assess risk, understand drivers of risk (e.g. climate change, land use, etc.) and evaluate risk management options, including nature-based approaches and re-connecting waterways
- Convene a regional advisory committee to investigate priorities for critical infrastructure and local essential services
- Fast-track funding for collaborative projects that work with nature in the Lower Fraser, including re-connecting waterways, fish-friendly infrastructure, and “build back better together” opportunities with multiple benefits
- Establish a simplified/coordinated/fully resourced system that streamlines permitting approvals across multiple levels of governments for multi-benefit projects grounded in the 5 principles
- Capacity funding for First Nations participation in collaborative work to support equitable, legitimate process at regional and sub-regional scales and implement Articles 18, 19, 29 and 32 of UNDRIP
- Complete mapping/inventory of existing uses of farming lands and food systems, including First Nations food systems, to explore opportunities for water storage, habitat restoration, and diversifying existing food systems. Include an inventory of existing agricultural capacity and supply chains
During the forum, Minister Ma stated that working with nature is the way forward: gathering and sharing information, adopting natural defence measures, re-evaluating grey flood infrastructure, and coordinating with other efforts to protect and restore ecosystem health in the Lower Fraser for multiple benefits.
For further information find the full report here.
Tyrone McNeil, Tribal Chief, Sto:lo Nation and Chair of the Emergency Planning Secretariat
Tyrone.McNeil@stolotribalcouncil.ca ; 604-798-1509
Councillor Jason Lum, Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District Board
email@example.com ; 604-316-9639
Find further background on the Lower Fraser Floodplains Coalition forum here.