$57M to combat spring flooding

Federal, provincial governments target north Red River, Peguis

By: Larry Kusch

Posted: 28/08/2010 1:00 AM |

Duncan Allan believes the widening of the floodway prompted flooding in his area.


Duncan Allan believes the widening of the floodway prompted flooding in his area.

Flood-prone home and business owners — particularly those along the Red River north of Winnipeg and at Peguis First Nation — are in line for some badly needed protection.

Although details are yet to be announced, the province said Friday it will cover flood-proofing projects of up to $100,000 for homeowners, farmers and other business owners, provided the individuals pay 14 per cent of the costs.

Where the money goes

Provincial funding:

$9.8 million to help high-risk Manitoba homeowners, business owners and farmers — particularly along the Red River north of Winnipeg — flood-proof their properties.

$6.6 million to conduct feasibility assessments for new community ring dikes north of Winnipeg and improve flood forecasting and ice-jam mitigation.

$1.1 million to upgrade drainage along Provincial Road 224 near the Peguis and Fisher River First Nations to mitigate flood risks in those communities.

Federal-provincial funding:

$14.4 million to build community ring dikes along the Red River north of Winnipeg;

$6.8 million to rehabilitate the Portage Diversion control structures along the Assiniboine River;

$8 million for improvements to the Shellmouth Dam;

$200,000 to continue work on a flood protection project at Melita;

$10 million over four years to seal-coat pavement over two sections of the Trans-Canada Highway: a four-kilometre west-bound stretch near Portage la Prairie, and a 13.5-km two-lane stretch from Falcon Lake to the Ontario border.

Also Friday, Ottawa and Manitoba pledged $14.4 million to build community dikes north of the city — although work won’t begin until feasibility assessments are completed and the affected municipalities set their construction priorities.

The two announcements were part of a package of federal-provincial flood protection and highway safety initiatives worth about $57 million unveiled by Premier Greg Selinger and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on Friday.

“I know that they had to work hard because this was not in their budget to find this money for diking,” said an appreciative Steve Strang, mayor of the Rural Municipality of St. Clements, which stands to gain from the announcements.

His municipality and the RM of St. Andrews were hard hit by flooding in the spring of 2009, an event that spurred the two senior levels of government to protect Red River communities north of Winnipeg just as they did south of the city following the 1997 Flood of the Century.

St. Andrews Reeve Don Forfar said community dikes are needed along two sections of River Road, at Breezy Point and along both sides of Netley Creek near Petersfield. He estimates 20 homes require protection along River Road and 10 to 20 homes need protection at Breezy Point.

But the big priority for the municipality is along Netley Creek, where flooding frequently impacts “well over 200 homes,” Forfar said. “It’s been proven two years in a row that the dike (along Netley Creek) is not high enough,” he said, noting 60 homes were flooded there in 2009 and another three this past spring.

Duncan Allan, who lives along St. Peter’s Road north of East Selkirk, said he’s hoping to get some compensation for work he’s already done to flood-proof his home.

“We’ve been playing Russian roulette the last six years and thankfully the bullet hasn’t gone off yet,” he said Friday, explaining what it’s like to face annual flood risks without proper protection. Allan blames increased springtime water flows due to an expanded floodway for many of the area’s flooding problems.

Selinger said details on who is eligible for flood-proofing assistance and how to apply for it will be available in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Chief Glenn Hudson said Friday he is pleased federal and provincial help will finally address the chronic flooding problems at Peguis First Nation.

Toews reiterated Ottawa’s commitment Friday to flood-proof or relocate 75 homes in the community while pledging to work with the province and the First Nation on permanent flood-mitigation solutions.

“It’s been a long time coming for our community and our people,” Hudson said of the federal commitment. He estimates it will take more than $100 million over the long term to flood-proof his community, located 150 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

This year, 223 Peguis homes were damaged by overland flooding during summer rains. Hudson estimates 480 or more homes on the reserve need to be flood-proofed or relocated.



This site is being authorized and administered by the COALITION FOR FLOOD PROTECTION NORTH OF THE FLOODWAY and is open to comments from all concerned citizens.

We are citizens of Manitoba who are very concerned about our future along the Red River north of Lockport.  The purpose of this blog is to share concerns, ideas, experiences, questions and suggestions which could be put to municipal, provincial and federal representatives of the constituents in this area.  We hope you will feel free to leave your comments on this very important issue.


The Coalition for Flood Protection North of the Floodway was originally formed to give  voice to those living downstream of the floodway outlet at the hearings of the Clean Environment Commission on granting a licence to the Manitoba Floodway Authority to expand the floodway. The coalition succeeded in bringing about changes in the floodway design to protect the aquifers from which thousands of residents along its course  draw their drinking water. We were not successful in our wish to have the floodway extended north to empty directly into Lake Winnipeg. We presented evidence that the expanded floodway would exacerbate flooding because of ice jamming that occurs during spring break up. Our expert witness ,Jim Moir‘s,  testimony predicted almost exactly what occurred this spring (2009) . Our provincial government and the Manitoba Floodway Authority  held the position that the existing Floodway and the proposed expanded flood way would have no impact down stream of its output. We believe they continue to hold this position because if it is proven that use of the floodway does increase flooding because of ice jamming, it is  illegal and they will be responsible to provide flood protection and/or compensation to those affected and they may have not been granted a licence to double the flood way.

Consider this, although, we are all citizens of Manitoba, the federal and provincial governments have spent in excess of a billion dollars protecting the citizens of Winnipeg and those upstream of a floodway entrance..The first class citizens in Winnipeg individually were not asked to contribute . The second-class citizens living south of the floodway had to contribute directly out of their own pockets. The third class citizens living north of the floodway outlet have been offered little or no flood protection and/or compensation.

The Floodway Authority and the Provincial Government consistently assert that flood protection measures for Winnipeg have no impact downstream of these measures . Following is a list of measures taken to protect Winnipeg :
1. The naturally occurring Selkirk bypass that split from the river in north Winnipeg and West St Paul has been eliminated by  diking and infrastructure construction (roads, railway embankments, highways, etc.)This historic natural floodway for Selkirk and North left the river at North Winnipeg through low areas of West St Paul past Stony Mountain and Stonewall through the bogg and Netley Lake to Lake Winnipeg . This was a monster during high flooding occurrences that carried tens of thousands of cfs. This water is now forced to go through the river past  Selkirk.
2. The province has diverted Cook’s Creek into the floodway at Transcona. This water, under natural conditions, would enter the Red River downstream of Selkirk.
3.During a large flood the red river becomes a large lake stretching well back into North Dakota and covering thousands of square miles under natural conditions this lake has only one outlet, a Red River north. With the construction of the original floodway another outlook for this lake was created. This new outlet discharges its water into the river at Lockport. The original floodway was designed to have a capacity of 60,000cfs. The expanded floodway adds 80,000cfs. The floodway is approximately 30 miles long while the river from the mouth of the floodway is twice that length because it meanders.
4.Before the floodway and diking within the city a large holding pond  formed(Lake City of Winnipeg) this no longer occurs, thus ,depriving the Red River North of this flood prevention.

The contention of the floodway authorities is that this is all cancelled out by the effects  of the water retaining  Shellmouth  Dam and Portage diversion. It should be noted that during three of the last four flood events north of the outlet the Portage diversion had not been activated or was not functioning due to ice jams.

We have work to do! Let’s pull together!                            Jack

“Essentially what you have done with the Floodway expansion is you’ve increased the size of the garden  hose but you haven’t increased the size of your nozzle”.                                      James Bezan   M.P.



  1. I read “Letter Holds Promise” a news article published in the Nov 27/09 edition of The Selkirk Journal. Will this letter help those of us living north of the Floodway outlet, who flood or are threatened by flooding? How do we find out more about funding from the Federal Government? To the members of the Coalition Executive, thank you for raising our local concerns with Government and for all the work you do behind the scenes!

  2. Thank you to Jack Jonasson for his letter “Flood Watch 2010” March 5, 2010 in The Selkirk Journal.
    We agree it is time for all levels of government to “…get serious and protect those citizens living north of the floodway to the same level as those living in the City of Winnipeg.” Thank you for organizing a public meeting at the Lord Selkirk Comp on March 16th 7 p.m. We plan to attend as we flooded for the first time last year and are very worried about this spring and future years.

  3. We are forming a group concerned about the downstream impacts of the proposed Fargo ND diversion. I would like information on the effects the Winnipeg floodway had on property to the north.

    David Gust
    Harwood ND

  4. We are just one example of the many residents living north of the Winnipeg Floodway here in the Selkirk area of Manitoba. We, and many others, can report the horrors that ensued up here last year after the Floodway gates were opened. Many who had lived along the river for years were quickly bought out by the Provincial Government in an attempt, we believe, to quickly get rid of the “evidence” of what the hugely expanded Floodway could do! We continue to fight the government for protection and mitigation, but to date, have had little support. Make sure you have environmental impact studies carefully done, BEFORE your proposed floodway becomes a reality. I hope more folks from up here will respond to your query, and we are very glad you contacted us. Good Luck!

  5. David, I have lived downstream north of Selkirk in an area called Breezy Point for close to 40 years. We never flooded until 2009 following the expansion of the Winnipeg Floodway. We built on a ridge, 700 feet from the riverbank. After the flood gates were opened last year, my neighbour called at 2 am to say floodwaters were crossing our pasture like a tidal wave. The house was surrounded and I could see water sloshing inside our cars. We climbed into our Jeep to be pushed around by the swirling waters while we drove out. We learned later that our entire acreage was under water. It is like having two rivers of water when once there was one. My husband remembers speaking with one of the original engineers who designed the Floodway. He said the plan was to build it right to Lake Winnipeg. That was not done. Now we flood when we never did before. The government will not admit the Floodway causes flooding in the north and blames ice jams. I have lived thru many ice jams – there is simply too much water now. We cannot sell our house and move from here. I expect to flood every year from now on. The water was high this year, within 80 feet of the house, it has never been that high before 2009. This has been an extremely difficult year as my husband has health problems and with the stress of not knowing what will come next and his worry that our life savings is in property which cannot be sold, has taken a toll. We await the government to come though on their promises for flood mitigation. I hope your group can learn from us and ensure adequate planning for flood mitigation for residents.

  6. I live on a tributary waterway
    called Netley Creek. The last 2 years we have been fighting with high water, because the Red River at Breezy Point gets blocked with ice jams and it then detours the water in to the Netley Creek. In 2009 at Easter a large area in Petersfield had to be evacuated, a dyke was installed along the creek and this year, 2010, it came
    almost to a point that it happened again. We have been saying all along that they are moving flood waters from point A to point
    B and not taking in to consideration what happens to people in other areas.
    We have always said at the Coalition meetings to straighten that floodway out and run it directly into the marsh and Winnipeg lake area. but what do we know? Those so-called engineers know it all and do not care what happens to us. The government thinks that by buying you out that it solves the problems.
    I advise you to create a strong coalition and have legal and engineering help behind you.
    Good Luck.

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