The site that serves as a western Canadian firearms training center for border services officers and Correctional Service Canada staff is rebuilding after recent flooding.
The Abbotsford Fish and Game Club (AFGC) suffered significant damage, including the destruction of the bridge leading to its property, when flooding began in mid-November.
Chairman Robert Engh said the club is currently losing between $2,000 and $4,000 a day from its rentals with the two government agencies.
The ACEC also leases its facilities to the Justice Institute, RCMP and municipal police departments, in addition to providing several handgun and archery ranges to its approximately 5,000 civilian members.
“They all use our facilities. Now none of them can, and I can’t even offer a timeline for when we’ll be back and operational,” Engh said.
ACEC is located on Lakemount Road north of Highway 1 and east of Cole Road at the base of Mount Sumas. Access to the property is from McDonald Road, with a bridge crossing the Sumas River.
Engh said the property was first impacted on the evening of Nov. 14, when the first atmospheric river hit the area.
A landslide from Sumas Mountain filled the basin with sediment, the quagmire was backed up, and water descending from the mountain flowed onto the property.
The next day, the main flood hit, when Washington’s Nooksack River overflowed and carried floodwaters north through the Sumas Prairie. Breaches in the Sumas levee system have aggravated the situation.
Engh observed the scene that afternoon.
“As close as I could get, the bridge was under water, and the clubhouse was about seven feet deep in the water and it went through our entire property,” he said.
The property guards were unable to come out, but their residence is on a hill and they were able to stay for the duration.
The club was flooded again in the days leading up to December 1 due to repairs to the Sumas seawall and more material coming down the mountain.
But when the floodwaters receded, the full extent of the damage could be seen. Engh said the worst was the washout from the bridge and gas line, and the gravel trucks that needed to be removed from the property.
This work was well advanced last week, with crews using the McKay Creek trail to bring in small gear.
“We have somewhere around 1,000 gravel trucks that need to be removed from the property so that we can prevent it from flooding again, because we have already been flooded twice more,” Engh said at the end of last week.
He said they were hoping to build a bailey bridge so they could bring in bigger equipment.
Engh said the damage to the buildings was not as bad as he had imagined – he thought they could be washed away – but the main clubhouse had electrical damage and part of the ground floor must be rebuilt.
The sea bath also needs to be gutted and rebuilt, as is the hatch.
On Friday (December 10), crews were able to access the property and cleanup and restoration work was underway.
Engh said ACEC is fortunate to have insurance to cover building damage costs, but gravel removal is not covered and could cost up to $300,000. He said the club would find a way to fund the expense.
“My membership is incredibly awesome. We’ve had nothing but an outpouring of support from our members,” he said.
Engh said there is still a lot of work to do, but he hopes they will be fully operational in the coming weeks. Updates will be provided on the club’s website at abbotsfordfishandgameclub.org.
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