City of Windsor urges Ottawa to fund 'shovel ready' anti-flooding projects
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The City is Windsor is hoping the federal government will fast-track tens of millions of dollars of funding to help prevent overland flooding in east Windsor.
“This is layers of the onion. We have an emergency situation across the country,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “We have an emergency situation here locally and we’re layering on another emergency, which is high water levels.”
Those after levels are currently 21 centimetres higher than this time last year in Lake St. Clair and city officials are concerned they will continue to creep higher in May and June.
“There is a very real fear that there could be overland flooding that things will get worse as the spring thaw happens and the Superior basin and that water comes down to our area,” Dilkens said.
Windsor submitted an application in 2019 to the ministry of infrastructure for phase two in a series of flood-prevention projects worth $80.5 million. In this phase, the city is hoping to quickly unlock $27.1 million through the Disaster Adaptation and Mitigation Fund.
He wrote to Catherine McKenna, the infrastructure minister and then reiterated that request to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a 15-minute phone call Tuesday.
“What he told me is he understands the benefit of getting the money out quickly and I’m comforted to know they’re looking at this,” said Dilkens. “They understand it is a way to inject money very very quickly into the community and projects that can continue, they’re essential construction projects, keep people working and deal with the threat of flooding we’re seeing and not miss this important construction season.”
Meantime, the city is making sandbags available to the highest risk residents on the north side of Riverside Drive from George Avenue to the eastern city limits.
The city is also advising those residents to have a plan in place for emergency shelter — especially in the months of May and June — recognizing the city’s inability to mass congregate residents at a shelter during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We can’t open the WFCU Centre to invite people in to hang out,” the mayor said. “We’re trying to give people enough warning you need to make advance arrangements in the event that you get flooded.”