Port Coquitlam Invests in Flood Prevention

Port Coquitlam, B.C. – Apr. 20, 2022… Port Coquitlam is planning $4.3 million in infrastructure improvements this year to protect the community from future flooding.

Funded through various capital reserve accounts, the investments will include a new pump station design, drainage main replacement, sewer system and culvert upgrades, and erosion assessment. The projects will help address flood risk from future extreme weather events, such as the “atmospheric river” in November.

“These improvements will help increase our community’s resiliency to the extreme weather and other unpredictable impacts of climate change,” Mayor Brad West said. “Our city takes its responsibility to protect our residents, homes and businesses very seriously and we will continue to be proactive and responsive. These investments will strengthen our multi-pronged approach to flood-risk management in Port Coquitlam.”

Flooding can damage private and public property and infrastructure, disrupt community services and business operations, and impact water quality and the environment.

Much of Port Coquitlam is located in the flood plains of the Fraser, Pitt and Coquitlam Rivers. The various flood-protection measures protecting these areas – including infrastructure like dikes and pump stations, and a BC Hydro agreement controlling flows on the Coquitlam River – have been developed and maintained to withstand what has historically been considered the 1-in-200-year flood level, in keeping with direction from the provincial government.

The City also conducts a variety of other activities to reduce flooding risk, including managing stormwater and inflows of excess water to the sewer system, assessing and repairing the City’s drainage system , and upgrading aging infrastructure.

In recent years, however, rising sea levels, major storms and other climate change impacts have increased the risks in low-lying areas. For example, although Port Coquitlam did not suffer significant impacts from last fall’s atmospheric river, the heavy rainfall did cause localized flooding and highlighted potential areas to improve the City’s flood-protection infrastructure, procedures and planning. These include several projects slated for this year:

  • $150,000 to design a new Cedar Drainage Pump Station, with plans to proceed with environmental permitting in 2023 and construction in 2024 if grant funding is available,
  • $85,500 to  replace a failed drainage main on Fremont Street south of Handley Crescent,
  • $1,145,000 to design and construct sanitary sewer main upgrades on Patricia Avenue and the lane east of Wellington Street, and
  • $100,000 to upgrade three culverts and assess erosion on the Cedar Drive watercourse, with plans for environmental permits and construction in 2023 if grant funding is available.
  • $1,845,000 to replace a failed culvert on Burns Road, north of Dominion Avenue
  • $50,000 for drainage pump station generators
  • $925,000 for capacity and condition upgrades to the piped drainage system

“Being surrounded by rivers, we’ve always taken flooding seriously in Port Coquitlam,” noted Cllr. Darrell Penner, Council’s designate for public works matters. “We’ve identified some improvements that can improve our flood protection, and have the funds set aside in our capital reserve accounts to get started on them this year.”

The City also plans to upgrade the Maple Creek pump station 2023, and staff are assessing solutions for the Greenmount Avenue drainage main and the Gates Park parking lot off Wilson Avenue.

The projects are part of the City’s broader climate adaptation efforts to ensure the long-term resiliency of municipal services and the community amid climate change impacts. Included in this work is a new Climate Action Plan, to be finalized this summer after two rounds of public consultation.

The plan will include achievable actions and targets for the City and community to address both the causes of climate change (such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and its impacts (including extreme heat, storms and flooding). Visit portcoquitlam.ca/climate for more details.

Port Coquitlam residents and businesses are also encouraged to develop their own emergency preparedness plans. Flood plain maps and flood preparedness resources are available at portcoquitlam.ca/flood. Information about the City’s free emergency preparedness community courses and resources for residents and businesses can be found at portcoquitlam.ca/ep.

Tips for before a major storm:

  • Keep nearby catchbasins clear of debris to help prevent street flooding, and report damaged catchbasins to portcoquitlam.ca/report or the free PoCo Sort & Report app (portcoquitlam.ca/sortreport),
  • Move personal items from low-lying areas to prevent loss.
  • Move vehicles to street-level parking if parked underground.
  • Charge devices and rechargeable battery packs before the storm hits. If you have a portable generator, learn how to use it safely and never run it inside the home or in an enclosed space. Battery-operated lighting is safer than candles.
  • Ensure each family member has identification. Name tags on children’s clothing, wallet cards and wristbands are useful in case you are separated. Remind everyone of the location of your family emergency meeting place. 

Tips for during a major storm:

  • Report flooding, trees of concern, fallen branches or other issues on City property at portcoquitlam.ca/report, by emailing publicworks@portcoquitlam.ca, calling 604-927-5496 or on the PoCo Sort & Report app. Trees on private property are the owner’s responsibility.
  • Report downed power lines to 911 and then BC Hydro: 1-888-POWER-ON. If you come across a downed or damaged power line, stay back at least 10 metres (30 feet).
  • Only call 911 when there is imminent danger to people or property, and immediate police or fire assistance is required.
  • Call the non-emergency numbers for Coquitlam RCMP (604-945-1550) or Fire & Emergency Services (604-927-5466) when there is no immediate emergency. 
  • Limit travel when possible. If absolutely necessary, drive, bike or walk carefully, and do not enter flooded roads or pathways. Watch for debris and use four-way stop procedures at intersections when signals aren’t working. Stay clear of fast-flowing watercourses and potentially unstable riverbanks during high-stream flow periods.
  • During a power outage, limit opening your fridge and freezer to preserve food. If the power is out for an extended period, carefully inspect all food and do not eat anything that may not be safe. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Check on neighbours who may need help, such as seniors, people with special needs, or families with young children.

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Ximena Ibacache
Manager of Communications & Administrative Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5499
Email ibacachex@portcoquitlam.ca