The province has decided that First Street will succumb to rising floodwaters along the Assiniboine River as it works to protect 18th Street and keep it open to motorists.
During a flood briefing yesterday morning, Brian Kayes, the city of Brandon’s emergency co-ordinator, said that the city is preparing for a very rapid increase in the river’s level — possibly five or six feet, and only a few inches from the peak reached in 2011.
If it reaches the high side of that, he said, "chances are there will be water" on First Street North.
No doubt a number of motorists will be affected by the decision if and when water from the Assiniboine begins flowing over First Street late next week, possibly between July 10 and July 12.
But all things considered, this is probably the best solution, as the rush of water expected through the watershed will be much like a wave that will rise, crest and fall within a short period of time.
In contrast, during the 2011 flood, the super sandbags that ordered by the provincial government took up a full lane near the river on First Street North, impeding and slowing traffic for several weeks.
The initial wall of super sandbags that lined First Street North and blocked off Grand Valley Road at 18th Street were erected in mid April, and the orders for their removal were only made in late July — this after two crests on the Assiniboine.
Spending thousands — perhaps millions — of dollars in manpower, equipment and super sandbags along First Street would not be a wise use of cash in our opinion, if the flooding is only expected to last a few days. We would rather see the province and the city focus on those areas that may still be susceptible to floodwaters along the riverside.
As you can read in today’s Sun, the city has already closed Grand Valley Road in preparation for diking along 18th Street North. It’s important to keep this north-south road open to traffic, especially since the city’s main fire hall needs access to this vital route.
This is also a minor inconvenience considering many of the neighbouring communities in western Manitoba are facing much more difficult water problems — everything from flooded basements, ruined livelihoods, and evacuation orders.
We hope motorists will keep Brandon’s situation in perspective if they are forced to take alternate routes around the city in the coming days.