Now, as dike-rebuilding season is nearly upon us, I am writing to draw attention to our historically unwholesome relationship to the Fraser River.
Past practices have been enacted with the attitude that we must fight the river, training and coaxing its flows for the benefit of industry and shipping, at the expense of natural life forms and more cooperative approaches.
As rising seas threaten civilization, we have not changed our tactics. The combative approach to the unbeatable forces of nature will always lose, eventually.
The Sturgeon Banks (west) dike is unlikely to fail because beyond it is a big sponge, absorbing excess water. Luckily, that area did not become a deep sea port, as proposed in the middle of the last century by old school politicians, engineers and industrialists.
Our situation, now that the old ditches have mostly been filled in, is there are fewer places for excess water to go. In addition to all our new pump station upgrades, would it not be less expensive (and less invasive) to create new and expand old waterways for the river to flow during king tides?
The sloughs off the south arm are quite stagnant and dry, with water only flowing in when the pump stations allow.
How about an attractive canal leading from the river up through (very wide) Railway Street, and an expansion of the Woodward Slough, which had a cosmetic (but mostly dry) expansion two years ago, extend it through the golf course (Richmond Country Club.) Horseshoe Slough is also an under-utilized overflow asset.
If we cannot beat the river and the rising ocean, why not make Richmond a city of canals. The pump stations are already in place to facilitate that. The river is not our enemy. It is our (sometimes) unruly friend.