Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the day: Selling the floodway

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I have read with interest the account in our local paper (Victoria Times-Colonist) of Duff Roblin and his determination to see that the Winnipeg floodway went ahead. At that time, living in Winnipeg, I was asked to accompany the floodway's chief engineer, Gerry Mensforth, on a sort-of PR campaign, mostly with business groups, service clubs and other influential Winnipeg organizations. We showed a short 16-mm film about the floodway (even though it hadn't been built yet) at noon-hour gatherings. I would show the film, Mensforth would speak briefly and then answer questions. And there were lots of questions; some pretty hostile. "Roblin's Folly" was another name some gave to the structure, along with "Duff's Ditch."

Mensforth was masterful. He was as skilled at answering questions as he was at building the floodway. Most people at those noon-hour gatherings left thinking that the floodway wasn't a bad idea after all. Few people know that the floodway came in under budget and was completed ahead of schedule, or that it saved Winnipeg from two damaging floods in the late 1960s -- the costs of which would have exceeded the cost of building the floodway. It has paid for itself many times.

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KEITH SMITH

Qualicum Beach, B.C.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2010 A17

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