MISSISSIPI VALLEY WATERSHED – With the flood of 2019 still fresh in everyone’s minds, the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) is developing a plan to reduce risks and guide development within the 3,750 sqare-kilometre watershed.

Work on the plan began in fall 2019 when a Public Advisory Committee (PAC) was formed consisting of representatives from across the watershed.

“After several setbacks including the ongoing pandemic, the MVCA has released nine short Discussion Papers for public review,” MVCA community relations coordinator Shannon Gutoskie released in a statement today (Feb. 3).

“The results shouldn’t surprise anyone,” PAC board member and Mississippi Lake Association member Doreen Donald said. “Many of the proposed actions are common sense, and just require a plan and collective will to implement.”

Two discussion papers focus on waterfront properties and land development. There are 8,510 waterfront properties in the watershed, and populations in the vicinity of Carleton Place and Beckwith are projected to almost double, while Drummond/North Elmsley and Almonte are projected to grow by more than 60 per cent over the next 20 years. Climate change is a common theme across the discussion papers, with projected impacts on water levels and quality, shoreline aesthetics and aquatic health.

“We have to stop pretending that each of our lots and subdivisions don’t have a cumulative impact on the landscape, and that climate change isn’t going to impact us,” Donald said. “Every forest we tear down, every wetland we fill, and every property we develop has an impact on the amount of water entering the river system, and the problems of flooding and water pollution are just going to get worse if we don’t do something about it.”

Enhanced management of the 30-metre setback for waterfront properties and enhanced development standards are just two of the 35 actions undergoing public review.

“The key is that we decide a path forward and collaborate on addressing these challenges,” MVCA general manager Sally McIntyre said. “Our board recently approved a $10 million capital program to improve MVCA infrastructure over the next 10 years, but more comprehensive action is needed to address the complexity of issues identified.”

MVCA staff briefed municipal planners in January, and are organizing virtual public information sessions in February and March. The following topics will be featured on the dates below:

Water Management – Feb. 12 at 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. (https://mvc.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8d0406c61bdd8d30dcb21ef37&id=e83509913a&e=b99cc045b2)

Waterfront Properties – Feb. 19 at 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. (https://mvc.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8d0406c61bdd8d30dcb21ef37&id=9ed160ac00&e=b99cc045b2)

Natural Systems – March 5 at 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. (https://mvc.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8d0406c61bdd8d30dcb21ef37&id=0d47d806cf&e=b99cc045b2)

Land Development – March 12 at 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. (https://mvc.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8d0406c61bdd8d30dcb21ef37&id=cab5c8caf6&e=b99cc045b2)

The discussion papers and more information on the Watershed Plan and the virtual public engagement sessions can be found on the MVCA website.  (mailto: watershedplan@mvc.on.ca).

MVCA was established in 1968 by area municipalities to protect and manage shared watershed resources for mutual benefit.  Today, MVCA is governed by a Board consisting of 17 members appointed by area municipalities and delivers services in accordance with the Conservation Authorities Act.