McNeil files flood advisor report to province

WEST CARLETON — Provincially appointed special flood advisor Doug McNeil submitted his report to the Ontario government today (Nov. 1).

Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry MPP John Yakabuski and Kanata-Carleton MPP Dr. Merrilee Fullerton announced the appointment in a special media advisory July 19 from the shores of the Ottawa River in Constance Bay.

Special flood advisor Doug McNeil. File photo
Special flood advisor Doug McNeil. File photo

McNeil has 36 years’ experience in public service and water resource planning. He played key roles in the 1997 “Flood of the Century” on the Red River in Manitoba and led the Floodway Expansion project which included a provincial review of floodway operating rules and flood protection studies of mitigation measures for Winnipeg.

John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry issued the following statement today 9Nov. 1) in response to the Special Advisor’s Report on Flooding:

“Our number one priority is the safety of the public and the protection of our communities. We understand the impacts flooding has on our communities and the lives of the people of Ontario and acted quickly by seeking the expertise of special flood advisor Doug McNeil in July,” Yakabuski released in a statement today (Nov. 1). “In addition to reviewing Ontario’s current flood mitigation strategies, he conducted community tours to learn firsthand the effects of flooding as part of his independent review. Mr. McNeil has delivered his report. We will carefully consider his recommendations and will release the report in the coming weeks.”

During his work, McNeil earned a per diem with a maximum cap of $60,000.

“Flooding is a serious problem that is becoming increasingly common as Ontario experiences more frequent extreme weather events,” Yakabuski said. “In addition to the special advisor’s community tour, the province held flooding engagement sessions earlier this year in Muskoka, Pembroke, and Ottawa to hear from municipalities and industry leaders on how to better prepare for and respond to floods. On behalf of the Ontario government, I thank Mr. McNeil for his work on this important issue.”

At the time of the July announcement of the appointment of McNeil, Yakabuski said his government was still pushing for a full independent review. He said on July 11 he wrote a letter to the other stakeholders involved in the management of the Ottawa River including Quebec Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change Benoit Charette, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada Carla Qualtrough and federal Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Jonathan Wilkinson requesting their support “in conducting an independent review of how the Ottawa River system is managed.”

At this time there has been no word of when or if an independent review of last spring’s extreme flooding will happen.