QUEEN’S PARK, Toronto – Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry today released the report by the Special Advisory on Flooding. On behalf of his constituents who were so heavily impacted by the flooding this spring, Norman Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, thanked the Special Advisor for his work.
Doug McNeil was appointed Ontario’s Special Advisor to Flooding in July and charged with conducting an independent review of flood events and management in Ontario. McNeil brought to the role extensive experience in flood management in Manitoba. His past positions include Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, and Vice-President of Hydraulics with the Manitoba Floodway Authority.
In his review, McNeil confirmed that this year’s record-setting flooding in many parts of the province was caused by a combination of weather conditions: colder-than-average winter and spring, higher-than-average snowpack, lack of significant winter thaw, rapid snow melt and significant rain events in the spring.
“Mr. McNeil looked carefully at the core components of the Province’s approach to emergency management relative to last spring’s flooding and found that steps taken by individuals, municipalities, dam owners, and other agencies were effective in reducing further potential damage to communities,” said Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski. “We are pleased by this conclusion, and we appreciate Mr. McNeil’s practical advice for the Province and other parties to help us to become more flood resilient.”
The report includes 63 recommendations, many of which revolve around improving the mapping of floodplains. Other recommendations include identifying flood risk properties on the title so prospective buyers are aware and supporting municipalities and conservation authorities in ensuring the conservation and restoration of wetlands to help reduce runoff and mitigate the impacts of flooding.
Recommendation #22 specifically deals with the Muskoka Watershed and states:
That the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) use the results of the Muskoka Watershed Conservation and Management Initiative to inform any potential future amendments to the Muskoka River Water Management Plan by working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and in the meantime, that the MECP consider whether to encourage the municipalities to establish a conservation authority or request the Ministry Municipal Affairs and Housing to restrict development in the floodplains (e.g. Ministrerial Order).
“I would like to thank Doug McNeil for his work on this report,” said Miller. “This has been a difficult time for many of our communities and I know that for many impacted by the floodwaters, life still hasn’t returned to normal. I will be studying this report and following up with the Minister on the recommendations which I believe will help our government improve the province’s resiliency to flooding.”