Families and Ranchers Fear More Flooding as PCs Abandon Channel Commitment
Project Missing from Two Throne Speeches under Premier Stefanson
The Manitoba NDP is raising concerns of families and ranchers in the Interlake and along the west side of Lake Manitoba who are frustrated a multi-million-dollar flood mitigation project touted by Brian Pallister as “the single-most important infrastructure project in recent Manitoba history” has appeared to be abandoned by the Stefanson government.
“Each spring families and ranchers around Lake Manitoba and upstream face the possibility of losing their homes and livelihoods to flooding. Yet the Premier’s Throne Speech failed to even mention it,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Brian Pallister announced his commitment five years ago, but PC disorganization and stubborn attitude means Manitoba is nowhere close to even starting construction. It’s time the PCs rolled up their sleeves and got this thing done.”
Brian Pallister’s PC government announced a plan to build two diversion channels between Lake St. Martin and Lake Manitoba to prevent a repeat of 2011 flood damage. The project’s cost has increased to $600 million due to long delays and expensive revisions to environmental reviews.
Under Brian Pallister the PCs refused to work with the federal government to get shovels in the ground, leaving environmental reviews incomplete. The project stalled to a halt in part because the PCs failed to comply with Indigenous consultation laws and argued with the federal government rather than get the work done. Pallister resigned from office before the project could even start.
The project has made zero progress under Premier Stefanson’s PC government. Two Throne Speeches have been presented under her leadership that say nothing about the channel.
Ranchers who were hit hard by the 2011 flood are wary of current water conditions and see similarities to conditions preceding big flood years. They say their operations would not survive another big disruption from flooding.
“Not only are hundreds of family homes and cattle operations at risk, but the potential for dozens of good-paying jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity hang in the balance because of the PC government’s disorganization,” said NDP Infrastructure Critic Matt Wiebe.