VIDEO: Agassiz welcomes new floodgate

Mayor Sylvia Pranger and Cheam First Nations Chief Andrew Victor smile as the ribbon is officially cut at the Lower Agassiz Slough floodgate. The new floodgate offers not only improved flood protection but easier access for salmon traveling the waterways of the Fraser River. (Adam Louis/Observer)Mayor Sylvia Pranger and Cheam First Nations Chief Andrew Victor smile as the ribbon is officially cut at the Lower Agassiz Slough floodgate. The new floodgate offers not only improved flood protection but easier access for salmon traveling the waterways of the Fraser River. (Adam Louis/Observer)
District of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger said the opening of the floodgate is a “big step” for the community during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new floodgate on Friday, May 13. (Adam Louis/Observer)District of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger said the opening of the floodgate is a “big step” for the community during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new floodgate on Friday, May 13. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Cheam First Nation Chief Andrew Victor welcomes dignitaries and the public to Cheam traditional territory just outside of Agassiz during the floodgate ribbon cutting on Friday, May 13. (Adam Louis/Observer)Cheam First Nation Chief Andrew Victor welcomes dignitaries and the public to Cheam traditional territory just outside of Agassiz during the floodgate ribbon cutting on Friday, May 13. (Adam Louis/Observer)
(Adam Louis/Observer)(Adam Louis/Observer)

A brand new fish-friendly floodgate has officially been welcomed into the community.

The District of Kent, Resilient Waters and Watershed Watch Salmon Society gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new floodgate on the Lower Agassiz Slough outside the Agassiz townsite on Friday, May 13.

The new floodgate is one of 60 projects across B.C. supported by the Healthy Watersheds Initiative. The $27-million initiative is a collaboration between the Real estate Foundation of B.C., the provincial government and Watersheds B.C. to stimulate economic recovery through investing in watershed conservation.

RELATED: Agassiz Slough planting rounds off restoration project

Cheam First Nation Chief Andrew Victor welcomed onlookers to the traditional lands. He noted nearby Hopyard Hill is the home of one of the oldest Cheam villages, with its names dating back thousands of years.

“Our people have been here for thousands of generations,” Victor said. “It’s good to work together in lets’emó:t, lets’e th’ále, one mind, one heart, to continue to work together and to live together in a good way. It’s great to see this work taking place.”

This opening ceremony was meant to take place in December, but by then, the district and much of the Lower Mainland were still reeling and recovering from the previous month’s atmospheric rivers.

The improved floodgate not only allows safe fish passage but the large culvert increases water flow, which reduces flooding, reduces debris collection and prevents algae and invasive species from growing near the floodgate.

District Mayor Sylvia Pranger said the new floodgate was a “big step” for the community.

“It’s such a pleasure to be here to watch a floodgate being opened that adds value and fishery value to the community,” she said. “I hope we can continue with these projects in Kilby and Bateson and look forward to many, many more projects that benefit everyone.”

RELATED: New floodgate policy in Kent to help prevent flooding year-round

Watershed Watch Salmon Society campaign director Lina Azeez said without fish-friendly floodgates in place, the water quality of local streams and the salmon population both suffer. Azeez added there are about 1,500 kilometres of waterways along the lower Fraser River that are impacted by more than 150 obstructions (including non-fish-friendly floodgates.

“I’m really glad to see this gate be put in,” Azeez said. “It shows forethought by your community here by actually taking steps to protect your community but also improve your habitat for fish and other aquatic species. The Agassiz Slough is well known to have a number of very important species, and it’s really wonderful to see your community come together and support work like this.”

Students from Agassiz Christian School helped plant indigenous plants in the area to provide more habitat for species native to the area.


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adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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