The City of Selkirk will use federal funding in the amount of $5.920 million to build and upgrade existing stormwater infrastructure that will reduce overland flood risks and safeguard people and homes as well as the city’s critical infrastructure.
The Storm Water Management Capacity Building Program includes three projects that will protect homes, businesses, roads and essential infrastructure in Selkirk. Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, made the announcement Nov. 29.
“The effects of climate change are apparent in severe weather events like the flooding Manitoba faced last spring, which damaged homes, forced evacuations, collapsed roads, eroded riverbanks, and closed some bridges, blocking off entire communities,” Duguid said.
“Investments in disaster mitigation infrastructure help provide the necessary tools to safeguard communities against the effects of climate change. Our Government is proud to be working proactively with partners to help protect Manitobans’ homes, livelihoods, and communities.”
The funding comes from the Disaster and Mitigation Adaptation Fund (DMAF). Launched in 2018 with an initial investment of $2 billion, the DMAF helps communities build infrastructure they need to better withstand natural hazards such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and droughts. Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada invested an additional $1.375 billion in the DMAF.
New and updated stormwater infrastructure will mitigate risk to people, homes
Larry Johannson, Mayor of the City of Selkirk, said the work continues the significant investments the city has already made into its stormwater management system.
“Climate change is going to have huge impacts on not only our infrastructure, but most importantly the people in our communities if we don’t make the investments needed now,” Johannson said.
“The unprecedented events that we experienced in the Creekside development and throughout Selkirk this spring will continue to happen more frequently and will further impact people’s homes and safety. Selkirk, with partners, remains dedicated to investing in the sustainable infrastructure needed to mitigate these risks.”
The construction of a west end storm retention pond in the new development planned for west of Annie Street and south of Manitoba Avenue will serve to capture storm water to reduce the risk of overland flooding during heavy rainstorms and snowmelt runoff each spring.
An active transportation pathway will be developed around the pond to encourage physical activity and integrate the pond into the surrounding landscape.
Adding capacity to reduce stress on existing stormwater system
In 2019 the city purchased 326.5 acres of land in the west end, its largest land purchase ever. In 2020, Selkirk approved its West End Concept Plan, which ensures development in the area is aligned with Selkirk’s Community Strategic Plan.
The Concept Plan calls for 5,000 new housing units, and includes a mixed-use urban village, an impressive 90 acres of new park space and a 1 km long stormwater retention pond that may serve as an attraction for outdoor enthusiasts like canoeists and kayakers. It will be the city’s largest stormwater retention pond, providing land drainage for the new development area, but also providing additional capacity for the city reducing stress on the existing stormwater system during extreme events, protecting people, homes and property from overland flooding.
Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol says the Disaster and Mitigation Adaptation Fund is a good example of how application based, large-grant funding programs should work, because it allows municipalities up to 10 years to expend the dollars. This flexibility will allow the city to arrange the funding for their portion of the projects and will ensure they are properly integrated into the existing priorities and plan for better implementation.
“The city is just beginning the development of an updated Stormwater Masterplan that uses the best climate change data available. We know that storm events will be greatly intensified by a heating planet – and we need to be building for the coming climate. What we experienced in the spring is only the beginning. This new comprehensive plan will provide us with a plan to adapt to that weather and will help us prioritize the investments and works that will make Selkirk more resilient and will reduce risk for our citizens.”
Sewer separation high-priority
The funding will also support the city’s investments into combined sewer separation to divide storm water from wastewater sewers to reduce the risk of basement flooding due to sewage backup. One of the key tactics of the city’s award-winning Climate Change Adaptation Strategy was integrating adaption into the city’s asset management program. This means that projects that include sewer separation get higher priority. The funding will allow the city to fund more of that prioritized work.
In addition, improvements to the city’s storm water retention ponds in the Creekside and Woodlands Developments will include aeration systems and water elevation reduction on the ponds to discourage algae growth and help protect natural habitats and ecosystems.