Ontario government appoints special adviser on Ottawa river flooding

Flood water surround a home in Constance Bay, Ontario on Sunday, April 28, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Ontario has appointed a special adviser on flooding to recommend ways the province can reduce the impacts of flooding and help communities deal with them.

The province has tasked Doug McNeil, a former Manitoba deputy minister of infrastructure and transportation, with looking into the flooding. McNeil also held senior positions at the Manitoba Floodway Authority.

WATCH (May 24, 2019): Ottawa mayor discusses closed-door flooding task force meeting
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Ottawa mayor discusses closed-door flooding task force meeting

Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski and area MPP Merrilee Fullerton spoke in Constance Bay on Thursday. The area was one of the most affected by the record-breaking spring floods.

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Yakabuksi says McNeil’s task is to assess the roles of governments and agencies involved in flood management, and recommend ways to help Ontario communities better prepare for future flooding.

According to Yakabuski, the province hired McNeil, who resides in Winnipeg, because they wanted to ensure the investigation was solely independent and free from any government influence.

“People don’t want to hear from the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board and, quite frankly, they don’t want to hear from government,” said Yakabuski. “They want to hear from someone that does an independent review.”

Yakabuski says McNeil has been given a budget of $60,000 and the report will be expected to be delivered by the fall.

Yakabuski has also sent a letter to the federal and Quebec environment ministers, asking for their help in launching an independent review of how the Ottawa River system is managed.

Earlier this year, the Progressive Conservative government cut conservation authorities’ funding for flood management in half.

With files from the Canadian Press

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