The City of Surrey manages the largest flood control system in British Columbia, with over 100 kilometres of dikes along rivers and coastal waters. As a result of climate change, Surrey is projected to experience more frequent and severe flooding from Sea Level rise and storm surges. Other impacts of Sea Level rise include rising groundwater levels, saltwater intrusion, and increased shoreline erosion. Studies showed that the existing flood control protection in Surrey was not sufficient to deal with the projected future impacts of climate change. It was evident that significant investments in upgrading existing flood control measures were needed. In 2014, the City of Surrey started an engineering review of climate change impacts on the drainage utility. The technical studies identified where to prioritize dike upgrades by pinpointing where and when the City was most vulnerable. The CFAS team spent considerable time engaging with the community to further understand the intricacies of the issue. Educational workshops, descriptive videos, online surveys, social media outreach, and various other tools were used to establish an understanding of the challenges posed by Sea Level rise, and also to identify shared values in the community on preliminary adaptation options.
In 2016, the City of Surrey launched the Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy (CFAS) – a participatory, community-driven planning effort that aimed to increase the resiliency of Surrey’s coastal communities to climate change and flooding from Sea Level rise. Surrey’s coastal lowlands were already experiencing nuisance flooding during storm surge events. Rising Sea Levels threaten critical provincial infrastructure and over 2,500 people in the region. The CFAS introduced four general adaptation approaches: Protect, Accommodate, Retreat, and Combination. With this foundation, the CFAS was split into five stages, with each phase narrowing down the adaptation options through extensive community engagement and technical analysis. At the time of the study, the CFAS project was in Phase 4; ten key adaptation measures were identified and grouped based on timescale and budget. The final phase was completed in 2019, which combined the final preferred options into a comprehensive, long-term strategy for the City.