Flood channels are emergency projects that need quick federal approval, Manitoba premier says

Flood channels are emergency projects that need quick federal approval, Manitoba premier says

Premier Brian Pallister says the need for two flood channels at Lake St. Martin and Lake Manitoba is an emergency and he’s asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fast-track approval for the projects.

The Manitoba premier said Monday that he’s already sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to that effect.

Pallister took several cabinet ministers and MLAs to an open house at a community centre on Monday in St. Laurent, on Lake Manitoba about 80 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. The meeting also was attended by about 100 area residents.

Homes and cottages on the south basin were flooded when Lake Manitoba reached a record high level in 2011, following a windstorm that capped off one of the most widespread flooding events in the province’s history. 

An emergency channel from Lake St. Martin was cut that summer from the northeast end of Lake St. Martin to the lower Dauphin River (where it could then flow to Lake Winnipeg). Without the emergency channels, in 2012 Lake Manitoba could have risen 0.4 metres (1.3 feet) above the record set in 2011; Lake St. Martin would have risen another 0.9 metres (2.9 feet). 

But the province determined that wasn’t a big enough difference to prevent real damage in another major flood event, and wanted a channel that could be operated at all times. So in 2013 the province announced plans to expand and make permanent the Lake St. Martin channel and create a new outlet for Lake Manitoba.

The cost of the two 23-kilometre channels will likely exceed $500 million, Pallister said, but he balanced that against the damage caused by severe flooding in 2011.

“Imagine how many outlets we could have built on [the funding] for the flood claims,” he said.

Previous floods have cost the Manitoba government more than $1 billion in flood compensation, he said.

Many at the open house have suffered damage to their homes or cottages from flooding and applauded the premier’s remarks.

Pallister wants to have the two channels completed in a year.

The massive flood channels would affect dozens of landowners in the rural municipality of Grahamdale and there are concerns about how long the expropriation process will take.

Published at Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:57:10 -0400