Part two: How politics could derail plans to stop the Nooksack’s flood danger to Canada
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Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022 | Today’s weather: β˜€οΈ 26 C | Air quality advisory

Good Morning Reader!

I was introduced to American football at a young age by my older brother. He used to play for the Abbotsford Airforce. (Remember them?) Before that, I watched him play in high school. Back then little Joti didn't really understand the game, but I would eventually learn. I am by no means an expert nowβ€”far from it actuallyβ€”but I would like to think my exposure to the game at a young age has given me a leg-up in my family's fantasy football league. I'm officially 4-0 now. As for my brother...I think he would rather I not say.Β Β Β Β 

β€”Joti Grewal, reporter
Local and international politics were a major factor in why floodwaters from the Nooksack River reached Sumas Prairie last fall. 📸 Tyler Olsen

The politics behind the Nooksack River

The Nooksack River could no longer be contained.

Thirty-two years ago, after heavy rain on the slopes of Mount Baker, the river overtopped its banks.

Near Everson, Wash., about 10km south of the Canada/US border, water spilled across a farmer’s fields and began flowing downhill and to the north. The water flowed through Everson, inundated the small town of Sumas, Wash., then crossed over the border into the western part of Sumas Prairie.

Near one Abbotsford farm, it poured toward an elevated rail line that served as a makeshift flood barrier.

"The railway tracks broke and it came over the top like a river," a farmhand told the Vancouver Sun in 1990.

The Nooksack flooded homes, killed livestock, and closed critical transportation routes, including Highway 1. Fortunately, the water stopped rising before it poured over a dike protecting Sumas Lake from refilling.

Canadians weren’t the only victims.

In the United States, residents, businesses, farmers, and livestock also suffered. Homes were destroyed. Roads and highways were also closed. Millions of dollars in damage were incurred.

The 1990 flood was a disaster for both countries, and one that sparked discussions on how to prevent the next major calamity.

So what happened to those efforts? Why was the Nooksack allowed to spill north last year and devastate Sumas Prairie? And why are American officials refusing to even consider the one approach that could prevent a future disaster?

The simple answer: politics.

Getting any more complex than that requires untangling a decades-long mess involving seven levels of government, evolving environmental standards and principles, and some Newtonian physics. It’s complicated. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Need to know

🥛 BC Milk and BC Dairy signed a partnership agreement with dairy producers in the four western provinces to streamline operations [Country Life in BC]

🚔 Chilliwack RCMP removed 20 high-risk drivers from roads during a week-long traffic blitz [UFVRD RCMP/Twitter]

🏘 An Abbotsford family with disabilities is being evicted at the end of the month and having trouble finding affordable housing; their landlord is moving in from Cultus Lake after failing to secure his own rental [Vancouver Sun]

💨 Most toxic drug deaths come after smoking lethal substances but Abbotsford and Mission are some of the only overdose prevention sites that offer inhalation services [CBC]

🚚 Fraser Valley truck drivers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of truck parking [CBC]Β Β 

🎶 Ringo Starr cancelled his weekend concert in Abbotsford after contracting COVID [Ringo Starr/Facebook]

🗳 Langley mayoral candidate Eric Woodward is accusing his opponent Rich Coleman of breaking the law by not disclosing all his assets [Business in Vancouver]

🏋🏼 The Chilliwack YMCA was renamed the Bob Chan-Kent Family YMCA after a long-time YMCA supporter [Chilliwack Progress]

👮🏻‍♂️ Abbotsford's police chief said one of the city's biggest problems was prolific offenders [Abbotsford News]

🚓 More than $200,000 of contraband was seized by officers at Kent's maximum security prison [Agassiz Harrison Observer]Β 

📚 The need for a new high school in Mission dominated the discussion during a meeting of candidates running for council and mayor [Mission Record]Β 

🚨 Abbotsford police arrested and charged a minor in connection to an August stabbing of a 37-year-old woman [APD]

🚑 First responders were forced to use 'jaws of life' to rescue a woman left trapped in her vehicle Wednesday after an alleged hit-and-run collision in Chilliwack [Chilliwack Progress]

🧑🏼‍🌾 The historically dry weather has helped one Abbotsford farmer with his harvest [CTV]

🚙 A person who purchased a used car from a Mission resident sued the seller after the vehicle suffered engine failure [Mission Record]

📸 Current Cam: Yesterday’s photo was of the train caboose in front of Emory Bar RV Park just outside of Hope. Congratulations to Joy Anthony for being the first to guess correctly. Reader and train aficionado Brett Williams wrote to The Current to note the caboose was one of 35 custom-built in Squamish for BC Rail. The original cabooses were a two-tone green and not the orange colour seen in the image. Fewer than a handful remain, he tells us. Have a photo to feature? Email us!

The Langley Township will have two buildings in the Aldergrove Gateway Plaza demolished, but the full future of the site remains in the hands of the new council.Β  📸 Township of Langley


Langley Township has hired a company from Burnaby to demolish two buildings in downtown Aldergrove. In June, the township invited companies to bid on the demolition of two buildings at the Aldergrove Gateway Plazaβ€”located directly beside the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre on Fraser Highway.

The buildings previously served as a restaurant and a commercial building. The three-quarter-acre property owned by the township still has one remaining tenant in the plaza with a lease set to expire in 2025.

Pacific Blasting & Demolition Ltd. was awarded the contract after putting a $380,000 price tag on the demolition.

In the spring, council sought feedback from the public on the future of the plaza. Council voted in early March to commit $50,000 towards the public engagement process. Residents were invited to share their thoughts in an online survey, an in-person workshop, and during an open house. Council received the Aldergrove Gateway Public Engagement Report during the last regular council meeting in July, but ultimately decided to leave the decision about its future to the next council.

Yesterday’s story on Abbotsford’s McKee Neighbourhood Plan incorrectly identified the co-owner of Mayor Henry Braun’s ranch as Diverse Properties partner Ron Funk. While Funk was previously involved in the ranch, he has sold his share. The landowner in question is another individual.

Around town


🏎 Mission Raceway Park is hosting Mopac Friday Night Street Legals on Friday. Details online.

🍂 The Happy Fall Artisan Market is taking place at the Royal Canadian Legion in Aldergrove on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Entry is by donation with proceeds benefiting the legion.

🎃 Giant pumpkin growers from BC and the Pacific Northwest will meet on Saturday at Krause Berry Farms in Langley to enter BC’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off Event. Details online.


🎟 The Hope Cinema Cafe is screening The Wisdom of Trauma with Order of Canada recipient Dr. Gabor MatΓ© on Oct. 19. The event is free but organizers are accepting donations of canned tomatoes and tuna for the Hope Food Bank. Reserve a seat here.

♻️ Langley Township residents are invited to recycle their household hazardous waste and small appliances at the collection event on Oct. 29 and 30 at the George Preston Recreation Centre. Details online.

Have an event to tell us about? Fill out this form to have it highlighted in Around Town.
An old-growth forest

Ninety years ago, the focus north of Mission was on choppingβ€”it helped spur the creation of Canada’s first municipal forest. Catch up here.

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