Study finds $1B needed to shore up Manitoba flood protection

WINNIPEG -- A report commissioned by Manitoba warns flood protection in the province has dozens of significant weaknesses and needs $1 billion in upgrades now to prevent billions in damage down the road.

See Full Article

The 1,600-page study details more than 100 vulnerabilities.

It says defences along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg are particularly weak and suggests that a flood in the area has the potential to cause up to $2 billion in damage if they fail.

In 2014, Manitoba had to declare a state of emergency and ask the military for sandbagging help when floodwater poured into the Assiniboine River watershed from Saskatchewan.

The province was also battered by one of the worst floods in its history in 2011. Army reservists scrambled to help shore up weakened dikes and sandbag homes along the Assiniboine River.

"The flood of 2011 highlighted several potential weak links in the existing flood-control systems. The shortcomings of the system were emphasized again in 2014," says the study by engineering firm KGS Group.

"This escalating trend of flood damages in southwestern Manitoba indicated the need for refocusing on the possible expansion of the flood-protection system that has served the province so well in the past."

The Portage diversion -- a channel that moves water from the river to Lake Manitoba -- needs $373 million in upgrades alone, the report says. The diversion has been pushed to over-capacity in recent years and risks mechanical failure, it says.

Without upgrades, there is a "potential inability to operate the control structure."

The report says dikes along the riverbank also need "urgent attention and upgrading" worth $273 million.

The province's emergency preparedness is also vulnerable, the study suggests. An unprecedented flood might require mass evacuations, including from the city of Winnipeg, and officials need to prepare for a dike breach or electrical failure which could affect flood-control structures.

"Evacuation on a large scale has not been planned and execution would be fraught with difficulties without prior planning."

It's partly a matter of looking ahead, the report says.

"It may be that such an extreme flood might not occur in southern Manitoba for many years," the study says. "By that time, many of the engineers/planners/officials who currently have the first-hand knowledge provided by direct experience will no longer be available."

Premier Greg Selinger said the upgrades have been on the government's radar for a while and are a huge -- but necessary -- investment.

"A community under water has no economy, so we have to move forward," he said Wednesday. "We've always known that we're going to have a very significant investment required to protect these communities."

The NDP raised Manitoba's provincial sales tax to eight from seven per cent in 2013, arguing the increase was necessary to pay for needed infrastructure.

"We need to do it now because you never know when that next major flood could occur."

Opposition Conservative Reg Helwer said the government has ignored flood infrastructure along the Assiniboine River for years. Now, he said, it's paying the price.

"There are critical hotspots that need to be addressed," said Helwer, who wouldn't say what his party would do.

"Those are areas we would look at investing in once we've figured out where this government has spent all the money."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Here's the latest on the review of Canada's assisted dying law

    Canada News CBC News
    Five years after assisted dying was legalized in Canada, lawmakers are preparing to review the system that has permitted thousands of Canadians to choose the time and place of their deaths. In 2016, Canada became one of a small number of countries to allow certain adults to request a doctor's help in bringing about their own deaths. Source
  • Is Asian identity even a thing? Who cares, pass the popcorn for K-drama

    Canada News CBC News
    This First Person article is the experience of Jan Wong, the co-founder of the Asian Canadian Women's Alliance. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ. Here's my COVID-19 confession: I'm addicted to Korean Netflix. Source
  • Calgary mayoral candidate who threatened health workers arrested after attending illegal gathering

    Canada News CBC News
    Kevin J. Johnston, a Calgary mayoral candidate who has threatened to arm himself and go to the homes of health workers, has been arrested after attending an illegal public gathering on Saturday. Police said the gathering took place Saturday morning, in contravention of a Court of Queen's Bench Order which imposes compliance with public health restrictions on organizers of events. Source
  • Tiger missing in Houston found safe, police say

    World News CTV News
    A Bengal tiger that has been missing in the Houston area has been located, officials said. The tiger is secure at BARC, the city's animal shelter and adoption agency, said Mary Benton, communications director for the city. Source
  • Embattled doctor steps down after allowing sex offender to mentor survivors at military trauma retreat

    Canada News CBC News
    Dr. Manuela Joannou is stepping down from her role as the medical director of a trauma program for military veterans and first responders in eastern Ontario amid public anger over her decision to place a registered sex offender as a peer mentor for a group of sexual assault survivors. Source
  • 'The most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done': Mohawk Lacrosse star pens novel about mental health

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Former Lacrosse star Delby Powless is opening up about his own mental health struggles in his novel “Medicine Game.” The Six Nations Lacrosse champion wrote the fictional book as a way to express his own real life experiences with sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Source
  • Houston police still don't know where a missing tiger is. Here's what we do know

    World News CTV News
    It's a wild story about a wild animal, but you won't find this tiger tale on Netflix. A Bengal tiger last seen in a west Houston neighborhood on Sunday is still missing, according to police. Source
  • Israel bombs Hamas Gaza chief's home as fighting enters seventh day

    World News CTV News
    GAZA/JERUSALEM -- Israel bombed the home of Hamas's chief in Gaza early on Sunday and the Islamist group fired rocket barrages at Tel Aviv as hostilities stretched into a seventh day with no sign of abating. Source
  • Crash victim had posted videos riding in Tesla on Autopilot

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- The driver of a Tesla involved in a fatal crash that California highway authorities said may have been on operating on Autopilot posted social media videos of himself riding in the vehicle without his hands on the wheel or foot on the pedal. Source
  • Media demand Israel explain destruction of news offices

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- News organizations demanded an explanation Saturday for an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the offices of The Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media outlets. AP journalists and other tenants were safely evacuated from the 12-story al-Jalaa tower after the Israeli military warned of an imminent strike. Source