Province invests in Westman disaster mitigation projects

Provincial funding for disaster mitigation will go a long way toward helping Neepawa’s current infrastructure rehabilitation, says Mayor Brian Hedley.

Neepawa was among 27 other Westman municipalities to receive funding announced Tuesday under the 2022 Mitigation and Preparedness Program (MPP). A total of 89 community projects were named recipients.

Neepawa will be eligible to receive a maximum of $48,123 for the replacement and relocation of public infrastructure subject to flooding, something the community is all too familiar with.

Historic rainfall on July 1, 2020, sent the waters of Park Lake, which then served as the town’s reservoir, spilling over the local dam and onto nearby streets, damaging homes and businesses in the process.

Hedley, who served four years as deputy mayor of Neepawa and was acclaimed as the town’s mayor on Oct. 26, said the province’s investment is “exciting” for the community.

“We’ve had some significant rainfall events within the last few years,” he said.

The bridge near Park Lake was replaced last summer, and over the winter more restoration work to the lake and dam will be done, Hedley said. He’s hoping that full repairs will be completed by the end of next year.

Elsewhere in Westman, the Rural Municipality of Cornwallis, which surrounds Brandon on three sides, will be able to receive up to $38,688 to study high water levels on Lake Clementi to provide options for “long-term solutions,” the province said.

The RM declared a state of emergency on July 20 to deal with flooding on the lake.

Sam Hofer, the newly elected Cornwallis reeve who will be sworn in today, said local firm Samson Engineering was hired this summer to draft mitigation strategies to prevent future flooding.

“We’ll get [information] from the professional [as to] what is the problem there and how you go about fixing it,” Hofer said. “It’s good that there’s … [money] available for projects like that. It’s an issue, definitely … and it would be nice to see it get resolved with some funding.”

The funding will help municipalities in Manitoba meet their post-disaster recovery needs and expand their capacity to prepare for future events, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk said in a release Tuesday.

“This innovative initiative, delivered through the Manitoba Emergencies Measures Organization, offers an important opportunity for municipalities to build local resiliency against natural disasters, extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change,” he said.

The province first introduced the program in 2020.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun