Crews prepare sandbags on Barnston Island on Thursday. The Fraser River is expected to swell to peak levels over the weekend.

Flood watch on Barnston Island

An evacuation advisory has been issued for residents and businessses, but flooding is of less a concern than loss of ferry service.

An evacuation advisory has been issued for Barnston Island as the Fraser River continues to swell and more heavy rains are forecast.

However, regional officials say the advisory is being issued in an abundance of caution, noting that the river is unlikely to breach the island’s diking system.

Nonetheless, property owners are continuing to sandbag, particularly along the east (upriver) side of the island.

Of greater concern is that B.C. Ministry of Transportation will shut down the ferry – the only way on and off the island – when river waters peak on Friday around noon – and the shutdown could last throughout the weekend.

“No homes are at risk as much as the projected river levels don’t appear to threaten the island, however the ferry service could be cut off, restricting people’s access to their homes,” said Rob Nicholls, Metro Vancouver’s manager of safety, decurity and emergency management.

“I believe the unknown factor is just how much rainfall is collecting off the coast.”

Projected water levels are in the area of 6.3 meters, which isn’t unheard of for Barnston residents.

“It’s not considered the island itself is at risk, just the access to the island,” said Nicholls, adding that Barnston residents area a “extremely resilient and self-sufficient group.”

Barnston is a 587-hectare island off the northeast corner of Surrey. Home to 137 people, it is entirely within the Agricultural Land Reserve, except for a 61-hectare portion under the governance of the Katzie First Nation.

Surrey isn’t expecting any problems from the river, however some small, isolated flooding may  occur near the Barnston Island ferry terminal at 176 Street and 104 Avenue.

In Delta, engineering crews are on a 24/7 watch of the dike system, making sure no leaks or undercutting occurs. One of the areas of greater concern is Westham Island, however staff at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary said the expected water levels should pose no problem for the island.

The Leader will provide frequent updates as they become available.

Up to date information is also provided by the province at Emergency Info B.C.

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