No quick and easy solution to floods
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | July 20, 2017
Minden residents who attended a three-hour post-flood meeting Tuesday evening were told more time is needed to solve the dilemma they’ve faced twice in four years.
All three levels of government—municipal, provincial and federal—will need to work together and commit money to flood mitigation strategies, said Brent Devolin, reeve of Minden Hills and warden of Haliburton County.
“This is a long road and we’re in early days,” Devolin told a large crowd at the Minden Hills Community Centre.
“It’s years, not months,” he said.
But not everyone in attendance was satisfied with that answer.
“I can’t survive a third flood,” said Barry Cray, co-owner of Gordon Monk Funeral Home. “I’ll be leaving town.”
Cray said the 2013 flood cost him $600,000 in property damage because insurance wouldn’t cover it. This year’s spring flood resulted in $250,000 in damage, most of which was insured. But now he will have to spend $50,000 on a berm to protect the business from future flooding.
“Everyone here is passing the buck,” he said.
Before opening the floor for questions, representatives of Parks Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the township’s emergency operations team reviewed the weather events that led to this year’s flood and how it was handled differently. They also highlighted improvements to dam infrastructure and monitoring systems.
Gull River resident Patrick Walshe said that while he believes everyone is doing their jobs the best they can, he’s just as sure political action is necessary for change.
“Someone somewhere has got to take control and say ‘we’re going to solve this’,” said Walshe.
“We can’t keep doing this.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Devolin said there will be two provincial delegations on behalf of the township at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario next month.
One will address lidar mapping and the other is a hydrographic study of dams and the Gull River. Lidar mapping uses lasers to develop an extremely accurate, high-resolution image of land. It will help planning efforts, said Devolin.
A second delegation to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will seek funding for “studies and infrastructure related to controlling the flooding.”
At the county level, there will be two ministerial delegations with more extensive lidar mapping and weather data.
“Although the Village of Minden gets hit more severely than most other communities, there was a huge number of lakes that hit record levels,” he said, adding that’s why the Upper Trent Water Management Partnership was created. “It speaks for all four municipalities in the county.”
Devolin expects discussions will take place at the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, which he is part of along with 12 other wardens. They regularly meet with senior government officials.
And he said he’s asked MP Jamie Schmale to participate in meetings with staff from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the minister in the fall.
“I’m hoping to come back to you with initiatives by the end of the year.”
One resident put Schmale in the hot seat by asking what he plans on doing.
He said that along with Devolin and MPP Laurie Scott, they will meet with provincial ministers, the CEO of Parks Canada and the federal minister.
“These things take time,” he said. “I guess the main thing is we’re all talking, we all want to help.”
Parks Canada manages the Trent-Severn Waterway, which includes the Gull River watershed.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.