With the spring thaw top of mind for residents who were affected by significant flooding along the Ottawa River in 2019, the Mississippi Valley, Rideau Valley and South Nation Conservation Authorities welcome the coordinated approach that Ontario proposes to build between federal and provincial governments, local municipalities, Conservation Authorities and indigenous partners to protect people and property from the devastating and costly impacts of flooding.
On March 9, 2020, John Yakabuski, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, released Ontario’s Flooding Strategy in response to the Flood Advisor’s 2019 Report, clearly indicating that Conservation Authorities will have a continued role to play in the shared responsibility on strengthening the approach to flooding.
According to Minister Yakabuski in a news release published by the Province on March 9: “We’re listening to people from across the province who have been affected by flooding, and 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.”
The Strategy 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 using state-of-the art science and technology.
- Enhancing Response and Recovery by improving how we receive and respond 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.
Ontario’s Flooding Strategy also calls for the update of existing natural hazard technical guidelines used to support municipal and Conservation Authority implementation of flood programs and activities, which was a key request throughout consultations.
“We are pleased to be working with the Province and sharing our flood management expertise and watershed approach to deliver services and programs,” said Sally McIntyre, General Manager, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. “We look forward to learning how the Strategy will support sustainable funding for flood forecasting and operations, flood proofing of existing structures and stewardship of wetlands to mitigate flooding.”
“We look forward to enhancing our long-standing partnership with the province,” said Sommer Casgrain-Robertson, General Manager, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. “Local Conservation Authorities are well-positioned to support the province’s strategy and we will look to better serve our watershed municipalities and residents through our unique watershed approach and our extensive expertise and experience in flood risk management, mitigation and preparedness.”
“We thank the Provincial Government for highlighting the important role that Conservation Authorities play in understanding flood risk and mitigation within the Ontario Flooding Strategy,” said Angela Coleman, General Manager and Secretary Treasurer, South Nation Conservation. “We look forward to working with all levels of Government to better protect people and property from natural hazards, such as flooding.”