A new funding has been announced to help Merritt become more resilient in the face of future natural disasters. 

The Province of B.C. just announced that the city will receive a $2 million fund to begin work on diking along the Coldwater River. 

“This is a very good start,” said Mayor Mike Goetz. “This is the first money the new municipal government received from the province for flood mitigation.” 

The new provincial grant is part of the $23.4 million from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF). The funding aims to help communities to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to climate-related emergencies, such as floods and extreme temperatures.

“The climate crisis will continue to increase the risk of natural disasters in British Columbia over the years ahead. Local governments and First Nations are important partners in ensuring that communities are prepared for what will come and we’re taking action to support them in this critical work,“ said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. 

“The projects enabled by this funding will make a big difference for First Nations and communities throughout B.C. in their efforts to keep lives and livelihoods safe from potential disasters.”

Ma visited the Nicola Valley two days before the new funding was announced. 

“We walked her through everything and showed her all of the damage,” said Goetz. “We had an application for quite a while on this and now they’ve decided to move in with their $2 million funding. I’m very excited that we’re going to start to see these dikes get repaired, and so is the council.”

The Disaster Risk Reduction – Climate Adaptation stream under the CEPF supports the Province’s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy. This stream from the CEPF is administered through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and funds projects that strengthen the resilience of First Nations and local governments in responding to and preparing for natural disasters and climate change.

Along with the dike repairs in Merritt, other projects funded by the stream include: 

  • designing upgrades for the Chilliwack Creek drainage pump station, which serves as a crucial component of the community’s flood-protection system
  • a climate and disaster risk assessment for T’lat’lasik’wala First Nations
  • misting stations to keep people cool during extreme heat in Victoria
  • dike-breach modelling in Squamish.

Goetz noted that Merritt will continue submitting applications for funding with the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. The city is looking to ask upwards of $165 million in federal funding to completely repair both the Coldwater and Nicola river dikes. 

“I’m very appreciative to the province for giving us this money to start the project,” he said. “It’ll be a great thing to see this repair go underway.”