Municipalities getting provincial relief from last spring’s flooding

·2 min read

Nine communities across the region are getting provincial disaster recovery funding for costs associated with record flooding from last spring.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is providing up to $6 million in funding to help with the costs incurred from the emergency response, cleanup, and repairs to damaged infrastructure.

Among the communities, Fort Frances and Kenora are eligible for funding over $1.4 million and $1.3 million respectively, while Ignace is eligible for more than $1.7 million.

The Northwest experienced record flooding last spring, which came from a combination of heavy precipitation and increased snowmelt.

Many municipalities also experienced culvert failures and road damage. In Kenora, the flooding destroyed the footbridge to Coney Island, and in Fort Frances, lake levels reached record highs, closing Front Street and the marina area for many months.

“The Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program is an important source of funding for municipalities who have suffered extensive damage due to unexpected natural disasters,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark in a media release.

“By accessing this funding, these municipalities will be able to make essential repairs to municipal infrastructure that was damaged by the disaster.”

Fort Frances Mayor Andrew Hallikas said he's grateful to the government for helping out during a very difficult time, and for what he described as an efficient response.

“We have had a lot of money spent over the last year dealing with the flood while it was going on and its aftermath, and we're actually still in a state of emergency,” he said. “We won't really know until the end of winter and we have a chance to have a closer look what the complete damage was."

Hallikas said he suspects the total amount of costs related to the flood may be greater than the relief they’ve gotten from the province.

Kenora Mayor Andrew Poirier said the municipality's total spend on disaster recovery up to Dec. 31 was more than the $1.3 million ceiling allowed by the new provincial funding.

“I think we're all happy when we receive letters from the government that say they're going to help us with some of these issues, specifically this one with the disaster recovery program.”

“What's been accounted for and tied to the flooding we had in the spring and summer of 2022 is around $2.1 million,” he said. “We have included our insurance carrier in this claim. So we'll wait and see what happens there and [determine] what is actually eligible, which [city staff] are working diligently on right now with the ministry to determine.”

“We had roads that had two feet of the water over them that had to be completely rebuilt,” he said. “It wasn't just in one particular area, I can think of five or six different areas that were impacted, throughout the municipality.”

Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source