The RM of St Laurent is drafting a resolution for an upcoming Association of Manitoba Municipalities meeting. Such action casts St Laurent in a leadership role for municipalities and makes it significant that it comes from one of the RMs most devastated by the 2011 flood.
It would be unfortunate to conclude that lobbying for the proposed channels should be less important given this year’s flood forecast. We all know how slowly the wheels of government turn and loosing momentum now will no doubt embolden the Province in its plan to delay completion of the project. The fact is that without the channels we are vulnerable to high water. Last year for example we were a storm away from potential flooding.
Adding to our vulnerability is that the Portage Diversion has enhanced capacity to 34,000 cfs since the flood of 2011. Lake Winnipegosis is currently in a cycle of historic highwater levels which taxes the Fairford Water Control System.
The effectiveness of lobbying is amplified when other groups are supporting similar positions. In this instance the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders (ALMS) is ready willing and able to support the effort of other RMs or groups. We will continue to the share our activities and invite members and others to add their voice.
Our focus has always been on completion of the channel system in Lake St Martin and Lake Manitoba to allow water levels to be effectively managed. We are lobbying the Province to express our dissatisfaction with under-funding in the current budget – $100 million was promised but $70 million delivered.
We want to note the broken promise of a completion of the project in the fourth quarter of 2021 – now moved back four years! A one-year environmental assessment had been included in the old timeline. Because the Canadian Environmental Agency conducts it own assessment it may add one year to the promised completion date of 2021. The assessment process does not get us to a four-year delay.
The Globe and Mail reports that Ottawa will not meet the pledge half the funding of the channel project in October 2017. Other than “soon” there is no revised date for signed bilateral agreements. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-will-miss-march-deadline-to-have-phase-2-infrastructure-deals/
We will continue to work with the Province to hold the Federal Government to its promise.
While supporting the Provincial government we do fear is that the longer timeline supports the Provincial agenda to bring down debt by spreading costs over a longer time, in this case on the backs of those who have made their homes and livelihood along the lake.