Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brandon gets cash for dike system

Province contributes $781,000 toward work

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SEVERAL hundred thousand dollars in provincial funding will mean Brandon won't have its "back against the wall" during a potentially disastrous spring flood, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst says.

The province has contributed $781,000 toward the $1.86-million buildup of the city's permanent dike system to prepare for what flood forecasters believe could be Assiniboine River levels of at least 1.9 feet above one-in-100-year water levels.

The work will deplete Brandon's $1.075-million flood-reserve fund and would have meant a 30 per cent reduction in this year's budgeted contribution to the city's capital development, machinery and equipment, office equipment and parks and recreation centre reserves in order to make up the $785,000 shortfall.

However, with the province now coming to the table, Decter Hirst said that cash can be either placed into the four reserves as previously budgeted or, if the worst of the worst unfolds, made available for emergency evacuations or other responses.

"Before the province came to the table, we were tapped," she said. "If something dramatic happened -- the dike failed and we had to evacuate residents -- we would have been in a real tough jam. This now gives us the ability that we're going to be comfortable, that we're going to be able to respond should anything unforeseen occur."

"Brandon had a particular situation where there's been a lot of development over the last decade in a low-lying part of the community," Premier Greg Selinger said of Brandon's dike work.

"It was very obvious to the new mayor and her council that we needed to take quick action -- and they have.

"This community has been right there from Day 1, making sure that they are ready and we want to be there with them," he said.

Brandon is the first municipality in the province to receive funding for its flood-prevention efforts, Selinger noted.

But with a total of $25 million set aside for the province's flooding event, the premier said he fully expects other municipalities to come forward in the coming weeks with their own requests for flood protection funding.

"We will definitely consider other proposals," he said.

The province has also provided a $35,000 sandbagging machine for the city of Brandon and outlying communities to aid in emergency sandbagging efforts.

With 12 chutes that propel sand into waiting bags, the made-in-Manitoba machine can produce 35,000 sandbags in an eight-hour shift.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2011 A11

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