Feds to provide $16.5M for flood mitigation in CK

Marco Mendicino, parliament secretary to the federal infrastructure minister, announces $16.5 million in funding to Chatham-Kent for flood mitigation. March 27, 2019. (Photo by Greg Higgins)

Chatham-Kent is getting millions of dollars from the federal government to help protect homes and businesses from future flooding.

Marco Mendicino, the parliamentary secretary to the federal infrastructure minister, announced Thursday that the municipality will receive $16.5 million in funding for flood mitigation efforts. The money is to help put a 40 per cent dent in the overall $42 million that Chatham-Kent planned to invest in reinforcing shorelines along the Thames River, Sydenham River, and McGregor Creek, along with the replacing of the 6th Street Dam.

According to Mendicino, the money will help reduce property damage and provide over 56,000 residents with a safer and healthier community.

“We know climate change is real and that Chatham-Kent is the most impacted community when it comes to floods,” Mendicino said. “With the ageing infrastructure around dykes and flood mitigation, it was critically important that the government of Canada partner with Chatham-Kent. The project is going to save businesses, it’s going to save homes and it’s going to save lives.”

Mendicino said the municipality applied for the funding under the government’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaption Fund, which is a $2 billion, 10-year program to help communities build better infrastructure to combat natural hazards and disasters. According to the municipality, the money will start being put to use next year beginning with slope stabilization along the Thames River. Representatives of Chatham-Kent said the majority of the $42 million will go towards building up dykes, drain bank stabilization, expansions of the ARDA dyke system, and upgrading various pumps and dams along the rivers in the municipality.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said the $42 million to put towards flood mitigation is something the municipality had been planning for already so there won’t be an increase to the taxpayer. He added if anything, this alleviates some financial stress.

“We love nothing more than to spend 60 cent dollars opposed to full dollars,” Canniff said. “It’s going to go a long way to take our money and do a lot more with it. It will be over a 10-year period but we couldn’t afford to spend it all in one year anyway.”

As if the flood mitigation funding wasn’t enough, Mendicino also announced that Chatham-Kent will get $13 million in Gas Tax funding, which is double what the municipality usually gets.

“It allows for towns to administer those funds as they see fit,” Mendicino said. “As part of that partnership, we place a lot of weight on the local expertise, local understanding, the knowledge of the impacts of climate change when it comes to flooding but also on infrastructure priorities.”