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Enter To Win $500 And Learn How Surrey’s Farmers Are Affected By Climate Change

If you’ve driven by flooded farm fields or caught footage of the storm surges at Crescent Beach this winter, you’ve seen evidence of a number of things: Surrey has a large area of floodplains within its boundaries, and our current flood management system requires some updating.

Surrey has over 35 km of coastline and about 20% of our land is sitting on floodplains. Boundary Bay, Mud Bay, the Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers, through Cloverdale toward Newton, the Campbell River and Semiahmoo First Nation are areas we frequent, live in or farm. Due to climate change which is causing sea levels to rise and extreme weather conditions, the way we manage these waterways needs to be re-evaluated and updated. Keep reading for a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card when you weigh in with your thoughts on the Mud Bay area.

This 3-minute video does a great job highlighting what we have in place right now which is already a remarkable system. We have over 100 kms of dykes, over 100 kms of flood management ditches, 25 pump stations, 14 spillways and 300 flood boxes. Watch the video to understand how each of these components work and why we need better management. It isn’t just human life that is affected; these waterways are also spawning habitat for salmon and trout, and home to many other wildlife species.

So you can see that the bones of the system are great but we just need to up our game as we deal with conditions we have never experienced before.

Previously, we shared how climate change affects the Crescent Beach community – a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. This time around, we’re looking at our dedicated farmers who have seen this city through much of its development, working hard as families and organizations to bring the best quality product to our tables.

There are many factors which are direct results of climate change that impact our farmers. I had an opportunity to sit down with two local farmers on a much-needed clear, sunny day earlier this month. While admiring the mountain view and the acres of farmland, I asked them questions to learn how the planting season and crop output have changed with the weather.

There are few people who pay attention to the weather more than a farmer. The first crop of the year has to be planted when the soil is dry, which ideally is in February on our beautiful coast. However, because of the extreme rainfalls we experience in February (we aren’t necessarily getting more rain overall, but we get more rain at one time) that opportunity for the first plant is missed. If there is a break in the rain in March, the first crop is seeded then. Sometimes, farmers have to wait till April to plant those first seeds. This pushes the harvest back, of course, because the crops have to be large enough to harvest; they need a certain amount of time in the ground to grow.

If the growth happens quickly, then a second planting can take place. If not, then one crop is all you get. And if the rains start coming down hard again before that first crop is ready to be harvested, then you don’t even get the one crop. This shorter window for a successful crop isn’t just about quantities of food being produced – it’s also about the livelihoods of these farmers.

Farmers rely on the pump stations (shown in the video above) to help them manage flooded fields. However, current management is insufficient during spring storms.

The Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy was put into place to get residents, farmers and stakeholders together to derive solutions using technology, information and a better awareness of needs.

The City would appreciate your input via this survey on the Mud Bay area. Your response will help them prioritize the coastal flood adaptation options for this area. Completing this survey makes you eligible to win a $500 gift card – so take a few minutes to do so before March 28, 2018.

We really are in this together and your voice is important. Take the time to talk to the City, leave a comment here and fill out the survey to help influence coastal flood management.

Taslim Jaffer
Taslim combines her love of writing and social change by telling the stories that build bridges among people. Her motivating forces are her 3 children and her INFJ personality. Taslim is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Canada and Yummy Mummy Club, and a columnist for Peace Arch News. She has romantic notions of travel writing across European countrysides and historic African towns but her heart belongs to Surrey, B.C. You can connect with Taslim on Twitter and Instagram @taslimjaffer.
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