MP Gallant says feds must implement flood report recommendations fast

OTTAWA RIVER – Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant says the federal government must implement provincial special advisor on flooding George McNeil’s 66 recommendations in time for the 2020 flood season.

“(I am) calling for immediate action to implement the recommendations to the federal government contained in the Independent Review of the 2019 Flood Events in Ontario as reported to her provincial colleague the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry the Honourable John Yakabuski,” Gallant released in a statement Nov. 29. “Flood victims do not have the luxury of waiting for the 2020 flood season for the federal government to act. The International Joint Commission (IJC), which sets federal government policy for water levels in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence watersheds, now says it is greatly concerned about the possibility of spring flooding again in 2020.”

According to the IJC, “Lake Ontario is currently 47 centimetres – more than 18.5 inches – above its long-term average level for this time of year.”

“And inflows from the upper Great Lakes will remain high at least through the winter,” Gallant said. “The decision by the International Joint Commission (IJC) to give the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (Board) the ability to continue deviating from Plan 2014 is an admission Plan 2014 is not working. The time has come to take the next step and suspend Plan 2014.”

The Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, has written the Prime Minister regarding the “lack of responsiveness from the IJC to concerns raised by individuals, businesses as well as municipal, provincial and federal elected representatives. Time is running out to lower water levels in the region ahead of next spring.”

The premier also pointed out the lack of representation by the area most affected by federal government flood policy Plan 2014.

“Ontario flood victims have no voice on the IJC,” Gallant said. “It is time for the Prime Minister to stop federal negative, divisive policies that hurt Canadians. I urge the federal government to accept the friendly offer from the Premier of Ontario and support the communities and individuals who have been so adversely affected by flooding.”

Plan 2014 is an agreement that changes a regulating system which had been in place on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River since 1958. Plan 2014 says it is designed to more closely mimic the lakes’ natural ups and downs, and adds muskrats, fish, and other wildlife to the list of interests regulators must now consider when they decide how much water to release. Controversial from the outset, it was signed Nov. 8, 2016. Three months later in 2017 the Ottawa River and the Great Lakes set high water level records.