The B.C. government announced a $53.6 million fund Thursday to start work to allow people to move back to communities devastated by last November’s floods and landslides.
Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen said April 14 that the funds will assist 10 communities, including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope, Princeton and Merritt, where the mayor said help is still needed for major works like bridges, dikes and flood control planning.
Direct grants are also being given to Cowichan Valley Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Kent, and Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
Mayors from Abbotsford, Princeton and Merritt, along with representatives from 29 other flood-affected communities, met with B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on April 11 to discuss long-awaited help from the province’s Disaster Financial Assistance program, and the commitment of $5 billion in federal help promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a tour of the flood-damaged Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford.
“Everyone in the room basically said the same thing, and that is that the money needs to come faster and the system needs to be more efficient,” Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne told the Similkameen Spotlight after the meeting.
During a week when Trudeau and federal cabinet ministers were in B.C., Coyne, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun and Merritt Mayor Linda Brown joined others honoured as community heroes, taking part in a ceremonial puck-drop at a Vancouver Canucks game.
Brown said temporary housing is a high priority, to allow people to move back in and provide housing for construction workers needed for rebuilding water, sewer and other basic services.
“This is not the finish line, it’s the beginning,” Brown said.