12/11/2012 01:40 EST | Updated 02/10/2013 05:12 EST

Lower Mainland Dike Upgrades Could Cost Billions: Report

Lamar Chambers watches waves as winds from hurricane Sandy reach Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Conn., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy continued on its path Monday, forcing the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
VANCOUVER - Renewing southern British Columbia's flood-defence network to protect against rising sea levels will cost up to $9.5 billion over the next 90 to 100 years, says a provincial government report.

It said an expected rise in the sea level will affect a significant part of Metro Vancouver and existing flood defences will need to go higher and new berms must be built.

The study area encompasses 250 kilometres of shoreline, 12 major municipalities, and more than two million people could require flood protection.

The study said current dike levels are designed on criteria from the 1970s, while this review looks at estimates of sea level rise up to the 2100.

The report was released Tuesday by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and is meant to get communities thinking about upgrade plans.

"The selected options do not need to be fully constructed immediately, but incrementally over the next several decades," the report said.

It's a followup to a 2011 report that predicted sea levels will rise by one metre along B.C.'s coast by the turn of the next century.

The report noted that such protection is required for the sea-level rise, maximum high tide and storm surges.

The province has also released new seismic guidelines for dike design and the study said all future dike design and construction must be consistent with those requirements.

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