As I write, Brandon is experiencing another “high water event” on the Assiniboine River. Torrential downpours last weekend in Saskatchewan and Manitoba has led to an overabundance of moisture in the watershed that feeds the Souris and Assiniboine Rivers, both of which feed through Western Manitoba, the Assiniboine cutting through the north end of Brandon.
As of this morning, the Assiniboine river is over Grand Valley Road west of the Corral Centre, and has resulted in the closing of First Street North as it curves around the river in the east. Eighteenth Street is down to one lane in each direction until this evening. For the second time in just over three years, we are a city cut in two.
— Mayor Shari (@MayorShari) July 4, 2014
This morning, Deveryn Ross, Winnipeg Free Press columnist and Brandon resident tweeted the following link to his new column.
— Deveryn Ross (@deverynross) July 4, 2014
In the article he points out that the province has made repeated promises for upgraded flood protection since 2011 and had promised us 1-in-700 year flood protection at one point which has been downgraded back down to 1-in-300 in limited areas.
Now, I understand why the city is letting 1st Street flood, there is simply not enough time or labour available to protect the street, they only had a day to do a job that in 2011 took weeks to prepare. It was simply an impossibility. For this event it is the right call; it is the only call.
However, when this event is over, we need to really pressure the province to bring this city up to a 1-in-700 year flood protection level. My expectation would be that that would mean we need to find a way to keep 1st Street at least partially open. It seems to me that the southbound lanes of 1st are probably not able to be upgraded as they are essentially on the riverbank. However, we have the northbound lanes which are far enough away to do something. I would like to see the engineering possibilities to raise the northbound lanes higher, up to the 700 year height level, but not as a dike, instead more of a causeway in places. That way the water could still flow past and under the street while keeping an extra artery to the north end of the city open, although at reduced capacity. First Street is a provincial trunk highway (1A) so the province should perhaps concentrate on getting something done to keep it open. Two lanes is better than none. They did after all promise that our city would receive 1-in-700 year flood protection after raising our PST rate by one percent. Perhaps they need to stick to that. In the meantime our city works to get us through this latest event. Thanks to all the officials and workers that are working around the clock to keep us safe.
Winnipeg gets the floodway, we should at least get an upgraded road.