How could our provincial government once again decide to flood Lake Manitoba? People there are exhausted, stressed and feeling betrayed.
As water from the Portage Diversion pours into Lake Manitoba, these folks wonder how this can be happening again. Despite determined efforts, many of those families have not yet recovered financially or emotionally from the horror of the 2011 decision to sacrifice them and what was once a great provincial lake.
The Portage Diversion was never built with the purpose of flooding Lake Manitoba. Using the Portage Diversion twice within three years is unconscionable. Sacrificing one area, again, to prevent potential difficulties for another appears contrary to the basic tenets of an egalitarian society. And investing human and financial resources immediately to protect the second area and not constructing a second outlet for Lake Manitoba between 2011 and 2014 begs the issue of ethical decision-making.
It seems a simple mathematical equation ... what goes in must go somewhere. If one overloads the capacity, it will cause harm somewhere.
Why am I appalled by these actions and non-actions? Let us compare Brandon’s flooding with that around Lake Manitoba:
The 2011 and 2014 Brandon floods have produced hardship for people and businesses. However, both floods were caused primarily by Mother Nature. The flooding of Lake Manitoba was a conscious decision made by government we elected.
Second, the City of Brandon was able to predict the potential impact of the 2011 flood and, more importantly, took preventive measures to the best of its public resources. Once the 2011 emergency was over, the city continued to invest dollars in flood prevention planning and infrastructure. These measures were taken by the local government on behalf of its residents.
Lake Manitoba residents never guessed the province would decide to push water through the Portage Diversion far beyond its capacity. How could they prepare? When the water came, who helped them? The military was in close proximity, but their orders did not include deployment to help at Lake Manitoba. Lake Manitoba residents were abandoned. They fought alone. They garnered the physical, human and financial resources they had in 2011 and again in 2014. Following 2011, they invested their own personal resources in an attempt to construct barriers. Of course, they had to first recover, move and rebuild ... with minimal compensation.
One likes to think that Manitobans can still expect to live in an egalitarian society. Of course, there are examples where this expectation may be beyond the power of current governing bodies. The decision to use the Portage Diversion way beyond its intended capacity, twice, does not even have the illusion of treating people equally. Mother Nature is one thing, but intentional actions by our government? Not.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 24, 2014