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Federal goverment commits $10M to efforts to reduce flooding in London

From left to right: MP Peter Fragiskatos; Mayor Ed Holder; Councillor Anna Hopkins; Parliamentary Secretary to Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Marco Mendicino; and MP Kate Young. Jaime McKee/980 CFPL

Thirteen months after London experienced its worst flooding in 40 years, the federal government is committing millions of dollars to a project to help prevent future floods.

The federal Liberals announced on Wednesday that it will commit up to $10 million to the West London Dyke reconstruction project. Once complete, the project will improve the city’s capacity to mitigate the effects of future storm and flooding events.

READ MORE: Significant flooding along the Thames River in London

The total price tag of the project is $25 million with the City of London providing the remaining $15 million.

“No city can do it alone, we need the support of the federal and provincial governments and this is a tremendous example of the cooperation that we have from the federal government in improving our infrastructure,” Mayor Ed Holder told 980 CFPL.

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“I couldn’t be more proud for London.”

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) will manage the project in partnership with the city.

Once complete, the dyke reconstruction should better protect residents and businesses from rising water levels from the Thames River, but UTRCA’s supervisor of water and erosion control structures, David Charles, says it will offer much more.

“It helps the City of London with the pathway system. It fits into the city’s plan to bring the public more access to the river itself.”

 

Gibbons Park was one of several city parks along the Thames River to be closed Feb. 21, 2018. The sign at Gibbons Park was barely visible, nearly fully engulfed by the rising water of the Thames River. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey)
The sign at Gibbons Park was barely visible, nearly fully engulfed by the rising water of the Thames River. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL)
A well placed sign at Gibbons Park warning of the potential for flooding. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL)
The rising water levels at London's Harris Park. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL)
The rising water levels at London's Harris Park. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL)
The rising water levels at London's Harris Park. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL)
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The parking lot behind Elgin Hall was closed Feb. 21, 2018 because of the rising waters of the Thames River. (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL). (Jake Jeffrey / 980 CFPL)

Flooding has been a longstanding and sometimes deadly problem for London. In 1883, 136 years ago, a severe flood took the lives of 17 Londoners. In 1937, London experienced its worst flood ever when the Forks of the Thames rose 23 feet above normal levels, killing five people, ruining more than a thousand homes, and causing millions of dollars in damage.

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Most recently, in February of 2018, the Thames River overflowed its banks, closing streets, parks, and playgrounds. The river rose significantly in Byron and even left Harris Park underwater, with water levels at their highest since the Fanshawe dam began operating in 1952.

“We have had consistent issues of flooding, as a result, these are infrastructure improvements that need to be done to save lives, take care of property, and maintain the safety that Londoners expect,” said Holder.

A portion of the Thames River near Labatt Park. Jaime McKee/980 CFPL

The project is slated to take ten years to complete.

“It’s great for us to have a long-term commitment so that we can pace together phases six to thirteen,” Charles added.

READ MORE: Man recognized in efforts to clean up the Thames River

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Project work will include the reconstruction of approximately 1,600 metres of the West London Dyke, from Blackfriars Bridge, north to Oxford Street West, and from the Forks of the Thames, west to Cavendish Park.

The project is also expected to decrease pollution, protect natural spaces, and allow residents and visitors to maintain healthy, active lifestyles for years to come.

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