Councillors push for help with flooding
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | August 24, 2017|
In the wake of spring flooding across the county, six local politicians brought their request for help, from both the provincial and federal governments, to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Ottawa recently.
County Warden and Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin attended the conference with Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt, Highlands East Reeve Dave Burton, Minden Hills councillors Pam Sayne and Ron Nesbitt and AH councillor Liz Danielson.
Devolin said they made delegations to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Top of the local list was help with flooding, which seems to be the new norm, according to the councillors.
Devolin said to get money for things such as studies, flood mapping, and infrastructure and mitigation measures, requests must go to the Federal Natural Disaster Mitigation Program. However, the province gets the first look before applications go to the feds for a final decision.
“All three levels of government are going to be involved on a perpetual basis,” Devolin said. “Flooding, climate change, weather patterns … we need infrastructure money to deal with it.”
As a first step, as outlined in a written report to the MNRF and MOECC at AMO, the county has made an application to the program for 50 per cent funding of Digital Terrain Model (DTM) mapping of the Gull and Burnt River watersheds to be used for risk assessments, flood mapping, mitigation planning and prevention.
“We are seeking MNRF and MOECC support for the UTWMP (Upper Trent Watershed Management Partnership) and its initiatives,” a written report to the convention states. We respectfully request the active engagement of both MNRF and MOECC with Parks Canada and other stakeholders across the entire Trent River watershed for integrated and balanced water management planning in the face of our changing climate. We respectfully request that an appropriate ministry staff be assigned to the file. Our aquatic resources, infrastructure, property values and economies rely on it.”
Devolin said they were also able to meet with the senior policy advisor to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.
“So, we were successful, and I would say well received, by both the provincial ministers and at the federal minister’s office. Obviously, we have a stake in this … we need to do something going forward. We asked for their support and I’m reasonably hopeful. We went well-armed, were well-received and told we’re ahead of the curve and actually have a plan other than just crying ‘woe is me, woe is me and we need some money’.”
Devolin said they’re now waiting for approval under the program and “hopefully, we’ll find out before the year’s out.”
In other AMO news, he said Premier Kathleen Wynne outright rejected a one per cent solution to the nearly $5 billion infrastructure gap in Ontario. The AMO-recommend solution was Ontario raising the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax by one per cent to bridge the gap. Devolin said there’d also been some provincial softening in the areas of joint and several liability and interest arbitration.
“It was a good productive convention. We’ll see where it takes us.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.