The Manitoba government is calling on the federal government to do its part to ensure the timely completion of the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels.
“We will not allow the delays of the past to be repeated,” said Manitoba Premier Brian 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.”
The Premier stated 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 and this is unacceptable, he said.
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,” Pallister said. “With each passing spring, our communities remain vulnerable to further flooding.”
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,” said Pallister. “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. “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.”
The premier noted that construction of an access road to the Lake St. Martin construction area is underway and the remainder of construction could start in 2019.