The site that serves as the Western Canada firearms training centre for border service agents and Correctional Service of Canada personnel is working to rebuild after the recent floods.
The Abbotsford Fish and Game Club (AFGC) suffered major damage, including the destruction of the bridge leading to its property, when the floods began in mid-November.
President Robert Engh said the club is currently losing $2,000 to $4,000 a day from its rentals with the two government agencies.
The AFGC also rents its facilities to the Justice Institute, the RCMP and municipal police departments, in addition to providing several handgun and archery ranges for its estimated 5,000 civilian members.
“They all use our facility. Now, none of them can, and I can’t even come up with a timeline as to when we’ll be back and operational,” Engh said.
The AFGC is located on Lakemount Road north of Highway 1 and east of Cole Road at the base of Sumas Mountain. Access to the property is on 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 region.
A landslide from Sumas Mountain filled the sediment pond, the slough backed up, and water coming down the mountain drained onto the property.
The following day, the main flood hit, when the Nooksack River in Washington State overflowed its banks and brought the floodwaters northward across the Sumas Prairie. Breaches in the Sumas diking system intensified the situation.
Engh took in the scene that afternoon.
“As close as I could get, the bridge was underwater, and the clubhouse was about seven feet deep in water and it was across our entire property,” he said.
The caretakers of the property couldn’t get out, but their residence is on a hill and they were able to remain for the duration.
The club was re-flooded in the days leading up to Dec. 1 due to the repairs being done to the Sumas dike 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 of the bridge and the gas line, and the truckloads of gravel that needed to be removed from the property.
That work was well underway last week, with crews using the McKay Creek Trail to bring in small equipment.
“We’ve got somewhere around 1,000 truckloads of gravel that needs to be removed from the property in order to be able to stop it from flooding again because we’ve already been flooded two more times,” Engh said late last week.
He said they were hoping to construct a Bailey bridge to be able to bring in larger equipment.
Engh said damages to the buildings weren’t as bad as he imagined they would be – he thought they might be washed away – but the main clubhouse had electrical damage and some of the main floor needs to be rebuilt.
The sea can bathroom also needs to be gutted and rebuilt, as does the trap house.
As of Friday (Dec. 10), crews were able to access the property, and cleanup and restoration work was underway.
Engh said the AFGC was fortunate to have insurance to cover the costs of the building damages, but the gravel removal isn’t covered and could cost up to $300,000. He said the club will find a way to fund that 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 be done, but he’s hopeful they will be fully operational in the coming weeks. Updates will be provided on the club website at abbotsfordfishandgameclub.org.