The Manitoba government has called on the federal government to do its part to ensure the timely completion of the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.
“We will not allow the delays of the past to be repeated,” said Pallister. “The costs and consequences of inaction are far too great. We are focused on completing this project as soon as possible to better protect Manitobans who have suffered and sacrificed too much, for too long.”
Construction of an access road to the Lake St. Martin construction area is underway, and the remainder of construction could start in 2019, the premier noted.
To advance the project expeditiously, the Manitoba government is committed to completing effective and efficient Crown-Aboriginal consultation and environmental regulatory processes based on scientific evidence, Indigenous engagement and consultation, and public participation.
“The outlet channels are critically important to ensuring the safety of all Manitobans,” said Pallister. “With each passing spring, our communities remain vulnerable to further flooding.”
Pallister noted the province has communicated its grave concerns to the federal government regarding the potential for delays arising from a more complex federal environmental regulatory process, including consultations with communities that will not be materially affected by the construction of the outlet. Additional federal requirements could add years of delays and escalating costs, which Pallister called unacceptable.
Severe flooding in 2011 and 2014 resulted in extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure in the province, as well as emergency evacuations in the communities around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin. Costs related to the 2011 flood alone have grown to almost $1.4 billion to date.
The flooding resulted in thousands of evacuations, damage to homes and properties, and significant economic disruption. The lasting human costs included the long-term displacement of the people of Lake St. Martin, Little Saskatchewan, Dauphin River, and Pinaymootang First Nations.
“Communities have waited far too long already. Construction is long overdue and any further delays are not acceptable. It is time to put an end to the fear and uncertainty Manitobans have faced and the separation from friends, family and way of life as a result of the flooding,” said Pallister. “We call upon the federal government to work cooperatively with us and permit the project to proceed on an emergency basis, for the benefit and protection of all Manitobans.”