One hopes that the BC and federal governments are developing compensation and rebuilding programs for those affected by the Fraser Valley floods. But then again, maybe NDP and federal Liberal government policy advisors are contemplating whether even to rebuild the Sumas Prairie agriculture and commercial infrastructure as it would cost billions. Besides, this area never votes NDP or federal Liberal. Then more billions would be needed to rebuild dikes, canals and pumping facilities to deal with the next flood. Then there are the discussions with the US government about managing the Nooksack River whose uncontrolled nature is the root of the flooding problem as it flows into the Sumas Prairie area from the USA.
Maybe not rebuilding isn’t such a bad idea. Firstly, there is no political win for either government; secondly, there is no climate change political benefit to holding back ever-rising waters which so many leftish city voters believe is caused by climate change. So just don’t rebuild and let Sumas Prairie return to nature. Realign the dikes so the Nooksack river just fills up the old lake bed. Build a few levees and floodways to protect Abbottsford and Chilliwack and reroute the Trans-Canada highway around the new lake. Then give the new/old Sumas Lake to the local First Nations to manage for whatever purpose.
To the usual mob of off-the-wall BC green lobby groups that would be the most enlightened action any progressive government could ever plan. That would also surely eliminate most of the evil emissions from all those malodourous poultry, hog and dairy cattle operations that used to be on the Sumas Prairie. The animal food production loss would be no big deal to those green folks because if you are a true believer in green ideology it is mandatory that you be a vegetarian. There is the matter of buying out all those folks who used to reside and make a living on the Sumas Prairie. That’s no problem when fighting climate change. Trudeau will just create billions to buy all those properties and businesses. Heck, Trudeau already destroyed the BC fish farming industry and BC Premier Horgan is doing his best to downsize the forestry industry.
I guess eliminating a good chunk of the BC ag industry is no big deal. Besides, as most city folks have found out, fish, pork, chicken, eggs and dairy products will continue to magically appear in grocery stores. They’ll just have to be brought in from somewhere else. A resurrected Sumas Lake might just be politically feasible and politically correct – now that’s something that should warm a BC green zealot’s heart.
There are alternatives to abandoning Sumas Prairie to become a lake again. One is to build higher dikes, levees and damns just like in the past. Bigger drainage pumps can be installed and an arrangement will be made with the USA to make their Nooksack River less prone to causing flooding. Residents and businesses affected by the flood will be compensated so that they can start over again and wait until the next flood of the century. That will cost billions, annoy anti-agriculture green lobby groups and not deal with the big picture from a genuinely visionary perspective.
I suggest a much bolder approach is needed that would see the entire Fraser River Valley protected from flooding well into the future. For example, I refer to a 1953 cataclysmic event where the North Sea meets the Rhine River Delta in the southwestern Netherlands. That titanic flooding event caused the loss of hundreds of lives, destroyed dozens of villages and towns and inundated countless thousands of acres of farmland and transportation infrastructure. Rather than rebuild to something better than just the last flood protection measures, the Netherlands government designed dams, dikes, and water and control infrastructure that to this day have not been breached by the mighty North Sea or Rhine River.
But it took billions, and innovative hydraulic engineering never seen before. I would suggest that after trying and succeeding in controlling water for the past 700 years, Dutch hydraulic engineers could find a way to deal with Fraser River valley flooding which would seem relatively tame compared to holding back the North Sea. Sure, it would cost billions, but it would last a lot longer than the present control measures which seem to be overwhelmed every ten years. Probably too much common sense in that suggestion, I expect.
Will Verboven is an ag opinion writer and ag policy advisor.

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