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Climate change threatens NV mud flats

CLIMATE change will bring frequent flooding to the Lower Lynn and Maplewood areas of North Vancouver, according to new maps from the province.

CLIMATE change will bring frequent flooding to the Lower Lynn and Maplewood areas of North Vancouver, according to new maps from the province.

Scientists expect glaciers and polar ice melted by global warming to raise sea level over the coming 90 years by anything from half a metre to several metres or more.

The province, using an estimate of one metre, created the graphic this month to help communities plan for the change. Across the Lower Mainland, large swaths of Richmond, Surrey, Delta and the area around False Creek would either be under water or prone to floods.

On the North Shore, the most at-risk area includes a stretch from Maplewood Flats to just east of Lynn Creek, taking in a portion of the proposed Lower Lynn town centre outlined in the district's new official community plan.

"It looks like it could impact the industrial area certainly, and it will definitely be something to consider when we look at the new town centre for Lower Lynn," said Fiona Dercole, public safety manager for the District of North Vancouver.

She said the district will take the information into consideration in how the new town centre is designed.

"It's not to say we would necessarily avoid developing that community; it's just that we would need to take some of these scientific factors into consideration," she said.

"There are a number of options ranging from structural mitigation like sea dikes to building design - things like having no basements or having industrial uses in the lower levels and residential in the upper levels. We don't know yet what it looks like."

The district, the City of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver are all working on fine-tuning the provincial maps to create a more specific picture of the threat facing their communities. In particular, Dercole said staff need to know how sea level rise combines with creek flooding and storm surges.

The other area of concern for Dercole is the flats surrounding the mouth of Mackay Creek, which is an area also being eyed by City of North Vancouver engineer Steve Ono.

That area has seen periodic flooding in previous years. The City of North Vancouver, however, will be largely unaffected by a sea level rise of one metre due to the steeper topography, said Ono. Staff have prepared maps of potential tsunami damage from a 0.9-metre swell, and those maps show few major concerns.

More detailed maps of the creeks are being done for the OCP.

"I'd be really surprised if we do the finer grain work that we actually have anything to worry about at all," he said.

Steve Jenkins, environmental manager for West Vancouver, also said he saw few major concerns on the maps. Their focus is on shoreline mitigation, he said, to halt erosion of the shore by building structures at the mouth of streams to keep the sediment there.

"In some places, we've brought our shoreline up two thirds of a metre," he said. "I don't think we have areas where we're jumping up and down and saying 'Wow this area is really vulnerable today.' I guess the one thing we have on our side is time."

To view the province's information, visit

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