Premier Pallister says Lake Manitoba outlet project to begin later this year

Homes in Twin Lakes Beach were destroyed by flooding in 2011. Global News

The flood of 2011 ravaged communities along Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin, costing the province more than $1 billion, ruining homes and cottages and displacing residents.

Seven years later, a project aimed at preventing flooding of this magnitude from happening again is slated to begin soon. The province’s plan is to build outlet channels at Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.

Premier Brian Pallister says it will begin with the building of an access road leading to the construction site and the hope is to have shovels in the ground this year.

Pallister was in St. Laurent Monday for a town hall meeting with residents to hear how the 2011 flood affected their community and to discuss plans for the outlet channels.

St. Laurent is about 90 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg and borders Lake Manitoba.

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2011 flood

Water levels at Lake Manitoba reached just over 249 metres in July of 2011, which was more than a metre and a half higher than the desired range.

Related: Manitoba flood report recommends increased protection

A big reason for this was water being diverted from the Assiniboine River into Lake Manitoba via the Portage Diversion, which was done for 126 days, according to the province.

Roads were cut off and homes and cottages were damaged.

On Lake St. Martin, water levels rose to a record high of 245.4 metres in 2011, which caused many residents to leave their homes.

The plan

Once the road is built to these sites, the building of the channels will start, with one channel running from Lake Manitoba to Lake St. Martin, and the other running from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg.

A proposed outlet channel that will run from Lake Manitoba to Lake St. Martin. Province of Manitoba
A proposed outlet channel that will run from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg. Province of Manitoba

Pallister says he’s sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling on the federal government to designate the outlet as an emergency construction project, and says he’ll be travelling to Ottawa in 10 days. The project is expected to cost $540 million.

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Related: Governments promise close to $500 million for lake channel

The provincial government says there will be both provincial and federal environmental reviews, both of which will happen in the near future.

There is no word on when the project might be complete.

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