Douglas McNeil, special advisor on flooding, released his report on the Spring 2019 Ontario Flood. McNeil, retained by the province to do an independent assessment of this year’s provincial flooding situation, praised Ontario’s “unique watershed-based Conservation Authority model” and its flood-management and monitoring programs, for keeping a bad situation from becoming worse.
The report, which is available at www.ontario.ca/floodreport, also urged the provincial government to “consult with Conservation Authorities on their application of the natural hazard-based approach and the risk-based approach to managing floods,” to try to either reduce the risk or effect of future flooding situations in Ontario.
McNeil’s report includes 66 recommended actions for the province and Conservation Authorities to consider for future flood management and prevention. Included among the recommendations is the need to “increase attention to floodplain mapping and the impacts of climate change,” conserve and restore “green infrastructure like wetlands and forests that store water and reduce flooding,” and “to continue support for the role of Conservation Authorities in coordinating and planning and action.”
Conservation authorities for the South Nation, Rideau, and Mississippi River watershed regions welcomed the results of the McNeil report and its recommendations, including the one urging the provincial government to support the work they and their fellow conservation authorities do.
Earlier this year, the Ford Progressive Conservative government announced plans to cut in half its funding support for conservation authorities and their natural hazard programs. Those cuts would also include eliminating the provincial tree-planting assistance program, which conservation authorities depend on for some of their conservation and flood management work.