Where is our province when we need it?
It’s almost two years since the 2011 flood. The province was hit by its worst flood of the century. Forty municipalities and groups in the southwest corner of the province have been doing their best to recover from this disaster. It takes at least five years to recover.
Our association has been trying to work with the provincial government and trying to have meaningful communications with the various departments and the premier. But does the premier exist? He has not responded directly to numerous requests to meet with him.
After much dialogue, we were finally able to meet with some department officials who promised to give our association a written response (no response received since the June 2012 meeting!). We were able to get a meeting with Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton in November during the AMM convention, which was to be a half-hour long and ended up being 15 minutes, of which he dominated the conversation.
We were told our time was up and after all we only had seven questions for him to address. His condescending manner was a true embarrassment to our province and provincial government.
Time for a cabinet shuffle, Mr. Premier?
We have been asking our provincial government to meet with Saskatchewan so that a proper drainage policy can be established between the two provinces. Saskatchewan and North Dakota have met, yet Manitoba, which is at the bottom of the drainage slope did not attend and has done nothing to engage in a dialogue regarding the whole sale drainage at all costs from our western neighbouring province.
Saskatchewan is allowing drainage from their province — in fact, it even offers courses as to how to drain efficiently, with full knowledge that the water will end up in Manitoba in larger quantities and arrive at a faster pace. So in an ordinary spring, it could result in another flood in the immediate future. Then comes the argument of an artificial flood versus natural flood — which is just another excuse to not pay compensation to producers who hold water back to minimize damage to our neighbouring urban centres along the watershed.
We elected our provincial government to represent us, not Saskatchewan residents. Or is the provincial government urging us to annex with Saskatchewan? The floods of 2011 and then 2012 (Assiniboine Valley) have caused much damage. We ask that this corner of the province be treated equally to other areas of this great province. We all must learn from this experience and our association feels very strongly that the more heads at the table to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the handling of these types of disasters, the better the consequences can be tackled the next time mother nature disciplines us.
Don’t be afraid of municipal input, for we are the stewards of the land and you may be surprised, we may even have some common sense solutions and suggestions.
We need our provincial government to be approachable and working alongside not against its own citizens but rather with/for its citizens. Dialogue is healthy even if opinions differ at times. We have much to do to help our citizens out who are still suffering the consequences of the flood(s), not to mention mitigation projects to be tackled to help prevent similar damage when the next flood arrives on our doorstep.
Rick Plaisier, co-chair
Flood Strategy Association