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Spotlight Story: Surrey, British Columbia

shorelineLiving along coastal waters highlights the need for direct action against flooding in the City of Surrey, British Columbia. City Councillor Mike Starchuck states that “we can’t afford not to do anything”, addressing the need to take immediate action to address flood resiliency in Surrey. Through a variety of actions Surrey has excelled in this position and is demonstrating a proactive approach to flood prevention. The city offers its residents detailed information on floodplains, flooding prevention, flooding along the Fraser River, and is currently undertaking a Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy (CFAS). Each of these resources provides a detailed overview of flooding in Surrey, including the main causes of flooding within the city as well as how an individual can prepare for a flood at the household and business level. Using scenario-based maps, the city has identified the need for new mitigation efforts acknowledging that the historic solutions currently in place will not be able to prevent major flooding events in the years to come.

map of Surrey coastal areas of concernThe CFAS webpage invites users to learn from videos, interactive maps and infographics tailored specifically to Surrey. The areas of interest noted on the interactive map include: agriculture, infrastructure, environment, culture, and communities, and people. Each area is of great importance to Surrey and could be affected by future flood events. Also included is a well-organized timeline which describes the project’s 5 steps: 1) What matters most and who is affected? 2 & 3) What can we do and what is acceptable? 4) How will we do it? 5) Reporting Back. Step 4 is currently underway and step 5 is due to be complete in 2019. To address steps 2-4 collaborative discussions were held between community members, experts, government officials, and environmental organizations. These discussions led to the development of ten adaptation options for the three coastal areas of concern: Mud Bay, Crescent Beach, and Semiahmoo Bay.

In addition to the adaptation strategy, the city provides advice on how to reduce the likelihood of household and property flooding. Recommendations include clearing gutters and ensuring downspouts are directed away from the house and onto splash pads. Surrey also provides community members with contact information to report local flooding and the Surrey Request App, which facilitates communications between community member and city representatives. Lastly, the city ensures that homeowners are taught how to react in a flooding event and are educated on how emergency response teams will respond in the event of a Fraser River Flood.

Surrey’s website is extremely user friendly and educational. Part of the adaptation strategy includes hosting workshops to better inform and prepare the people of Surrey for different stages of the adaptation project. Residents are also asked to provide feedback as the city seeks a participatory approach to solutions. In addition, individuals can easily sign up for the CFAS newsletter to keep up to date on the latest information. The City of Surrey and its community members are leading the way in flood mitigation while building a more resilient and engaged community. With such an admirable effort to confront the issue of flooding in a changing climate, the City of Surrey is clearly living by their motto “the future lives here”.

City of Surrey logoVisit https://www.surrey.ca/city-services/4707.aspx for more information on flood control in the City of Surrey.

Take action:

FloodSmartCanada logoFollow @PARTNERS4ACTION on Twitter for flood-related news and updates.

For more information on floods and tips for how to prepare visit FloodSmartCanada.ca. FloodSmartCanada.ca provides people across the country with an easy to use information database full of flood-related content.

Image sources:

Image 1: City of Surrey,  https://www.surrey.ca/city-services/19888.aspx (from video)

Image 2: https://www.surrey.ca/city-services/4707.aspx