Municipalities to receive flood recovery support, spring repairs in progress

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

An influx of provincial cash will be able to mitigate flood damage for several area municipalities. The Ontario government is providing up to $6 million in provincial disaster recovery funding to help cover the costs of the emergency response, debris clean up, and repairs to municipal infrastructure related to flooding across northwestern Ontario.

Funding is being provided to nine municipalities, including Fort Frances, Conmee, Ignace, Kenora, La Vallee, Lake of the Woods, O’Connor, Red Lake and Sioux Lookout. Up to $1,454,000 will be provided to Fort Frances.

This financial support is being provided through the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program.

“The Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program is an important source of funding for municipalities who have suffered extensive damage due to unexpected natural disasters,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By accessing this funding, these municipalities will be able to make essential repairs to municipal infrastructure that was damaged by the disaster.”

Travis Rob, Manager of Operations & Facilities for Fort Frances, said the town has been working on the application for flood recovery support for a long time.

“We don’t actually have any money in the bank yet, but we at least have now a clear direction on extra money that is going to be coming in to cover the cost expense last year,” he said.

The application came in two parts, compiling costs incurred from damage repairs in addition to projected costs for upcoming additional work. “So there’s two parts to it. Money we had spent, and money we still had to spend to get that total amount,” Rob said.

Rob estimated that the town’s total claim for disaster recovery funds was around $1.6 million.

The final amount of funding received will reflect what is actually spent to bring the town back to pre-flood conditions, he said.

A combination of unusually heavy precipitation and increased snowmelt led to record breaking flooding across northwest Ontario in Spring 2022. At the time, multiple roads and highways were closed due to sections being washed out. Many municipalities also experienced culvert failures and road damage.

In Fort Frances, most of the flood recovery work already completed has consisted of clean up. “We had to replace all the sandbags to pick up all of the debris cleanup, we had to replace the protective surface on a bunch of playgrounds,” Rob said.

Still to be done, the town will replace two sections of storm sewer along Front Street, removal of the bog at Sunny Cove and shoreline work along the upper river from the Sorting Gap up toward the water treatment plant, Rob said.

“That will be starting once we have approvals to do so from the DFO, [Fisheries and Oceans Canada], and the MNRF, [Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry],” he said.

Rob said the work will likely begin late this spring once the approvals are received.

“This is something we’ve been working on for a long time, we’ve been waiting on for a long time. With the projects that we still have to do, they’re not cheap projects by any stretch of imagination, so knowing where we sit in terms of funding is pretty key in terms of scoping those out and starting to get the pieces in place to get this work done,” Rob said.

“We’re really pleased that this has come through now so that we have the ability, before construction season really gets rolling, to get these projects in place and ready to go.”