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Victoria looking for cash for Coquitlam dikes

The Deboville Slough Wetlands, located at the east end of Lower Victoria Drive, are a popular area for walkers, joggers, dog walkers, photographers and nature lovers. The dike will be transferred to the city of Coquitlam on Dec. 31, 2015. - JANIS WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
The Deboville Slough Wetlands, located at the east end of Lower Victoria Drive, are a popular area for walkers, joggers, dog walkers, photographers and nature lovers. The dike will be transferred to the city of Coquitlam on Dec. 31, 2015.
— image credit: JANIS WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

The provincial government says it's looking for ways to raise the dikes around the Deboville Slough before it transfers the land to the city of Coquitlam next year.

The ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations told The Tri-City News that senior government cash is now being sought to repair and upgrade the Coquitlam Diking District (CDD) before the deadline.

"The funding required to bring the dikes to uniform standard is recognized by the province as being important to addressing the city's concerns," a ministry spokesperson said last Friday.

Coquitlam is one of five B.C. jurisdictions where diking assets are still owned by the provincial government. And sections of the century-old Drainage, Ditch and Dike Act — or DDDA — under which the CDD exists, will be repealed on Dec. 31, 2015.

Coquitlam city council and staff have made it clear to Victoria they want the CDD brought up to standard before the transfer to avoid any liability to municipal taxpayers.

Last fall, council sent a letter to the ministry to complete the repairs as listed in the condition assessment report as well as to bring the crest up to the agricultural level.

That work would cost roughly $10 million.

The assessment report was the result of a call by delegates at the 2011 Union of BC Municipalities convention, who backed a resolution by Coquitlam council asking for a full cost, operating and condition review of CDD.

The report, which is now complete, shows the existing dike crest fails both the agricultural (4.4 m) and provincial (5.5 m) standard, thereby making the nearby farmlands prone to flooding during a Fraser River spring freshet.

As well, the assessment notes the dike crest is too narrow and the bank too steep, and it has areas that are eroding; in one place, trees are growing on the bank. The pump station and the flood box also need updating, the report states.

City staff said the asset transfer will add another $60,000 a year to the municipal operations budget — money they suggest could be recouped with fees on the 16 property owners who surround the dike (in 2012, the tax levied by the CDD on those landholders totalled $22,862).

Protecting 829 acres, most of it in the agricultural land reserve, the CCD is located on the west side of the Pitt River and north of the Deboville Slough. It was built between 1893 and 1894 — when the DDDA came into effect— with native material from adjacent ditches. It held during the 1948 flood of the Fraser River; however, it was rebuilt the following year and rocks were added to the Pitt River stretch.

In 2007, in anticipation of an unusually large spring freshet, the city of Port Coquitlam raised and widened its Pitt River dike to 5.5 m, from Cedar Avenue to Argue Street, with the provincial government paying for the extra flood protection.

jwarren@tricitynews.com

 

 

 

 

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