Ontario launches new flooding strategy but no financial commitment provided

The Ontario government has launched a new strategy to help communities impacted by flooding but did not state how much of a financial commitment it includes.

During a Monday morning press conference in Minden, John Yakabuski, minister of natural resources and forestry, unveiled the province’s new flooding strategy to help protect people and communities from the effects of flooding.

The town of Minden has declared a state of emergency three times in the last six years (most recently in April 2019) due to springtime flooding of the Gull River, which runs through the town 100 kilometres north of Peterborough.

“We know that we can’t prevent flooding in Ontario — we can only become more resilient to it,” stated Yakabuski. “Our strategy is designed to increase public awareness and help us to be better prepared and equipped to respond to the devastating effects of flooding.”

Flooding in Minden in 2019

Yakabuski did not indicate any financial commitment to the strategy, which focuses on five priority areas:

  • Understanding flood risk through updated floodplain mapping and increasing access to flood-related information.
  • Strengthening governance through provincial policy to ensure local development is directed away from areas where flooding and erosion present unacceptable risks.
  • Enhancing flood preparedness through the use of state-of-the-art science and technology.
  • Enhancing response and recovery by improving how the province receives and responds to municipal requests for assistance.
  • Investing in flood risk reduction by working with the federal government to increase investment in critical areas like mapping and infrastructure.

“We’re listening to people from across the province who have been affected by flooding,” said Yakabuski. “That is why we’re taking a whole-of-government approach and calling on the federal government, our municipal partners, conservation authorities, industry and Indigenous communities to work with us to implement the actions contained in this strategy.”

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott — minister of infrastructure — says her riding has endured record flooding over the past decade and says the new strategy will help.

The province says it provided more than $7 million in disaster recovery funding last year for those impacted by spring flooding throughout Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided approximately 890,000 sandbags to municipalities and deployed more than 60 fire ranger crews and staff to impacted municipalities.

“Building healthier and safer communities is our top priority and that’s why we’re taking action to strengthen the province’s preparedness for flooding,” stated Scott.

“We’ll continue to speak with Ontarians and we’ll keep learning more as the strategy is implemented.”

Barry Devolin, mayor of Minden Hills Township, calls the strategy “a start.” He says he’s unsure how many recommendations were followed from a special adviser’s 66 issued last fall to improve the province’s resiliency to floods.

More to come.

Ontario flooding in 2019

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