By Chad Ingram
Published June 29 2017
Minden Hills township will host a publicmeeting for residents who were affected by May flooding. The meeting istentatively scheduled for July and will be confirmed once a moderator isacquired.
Councillors discussed the organization ofthe town hall-style meeting in a lengthy conversation during a June 29 councilmeeting.
Reeve Brent Devolin has said numerous timesthere would be an opportunity for residents to make their concerns regarding theflood known and to ask questions.
“There's people that want to tell theirstories” Devolin said Thursday. “They want to say how they were affected.”
Devolin has said that while the emergencyphase of the flood is now over – a state of emergency that had been declared inMinden Hills was lifted May 26 – the township is still in the recovery phaseand that staff have continued to work on flood-related matters.
The first post-flood debriefing meetingbetween the municipality's control group and government agencies such as ParksCanada which operates the Trent Severn Waterway took place on Tuesday June27.
“There are a number of things that arealready in process that the general public is not aware of” Devolin said. “Ithink there's a lot of misunderstanding on that.”
A number of frustrated residents gatheredfor a meeting regarding the flood at the Dominion Hotel on Monday night.
That meeting was moderated by former MindenHills councillor Brigitte Gall who ran against Devolin for the reeve's seat inthe 2014 election and whose neighbourhood was affected by the flood.
“There were a lot of people who neededand wanted to do more than just ‘tell their stories and grieve’” Gall told thepaper following the heated meeting. “They want an assurance that our municipalcouncil staff and provincial partners are hearing us and acknowledging thatwe are not content to simply be the catch basin for antiquated expectations ofwater management climate change and political hand wringing.”
Devolin who also resides in aflood-affected area was invited to that meeting but declined to attendtelling the paper he thought he would probably be the “elephant in the room.”
Council discussed how a publicmeeting would unfold likely with an overview of municipal operations duringthe flood before opening the floor up to questions.
“So who is going to be speaking?' askedCouncillor Lisa Schell. “Who is going to be answering questions? Will the TSWand MNRF be there?”
“We can ask” Devolin said. “We can'ttell them to come.”
The reeve said he thought the meetingwould require a moderator and councillors seemed to agree that a trusted memberof the community would be best suited for that role. While July 17 or 18 weresuggested as tentative dates for the meeting the township will wait andschedule the meeting based on the availability of a moderator.
During the flood of 2013 then-MindenHills reeve Barb Reid held a public meeting where she fielded questions fromthe public alongside representatives from Parks Canada.
Devolin has said that local politicianswill be seeking a delegation with cabinet ministers during this summer'sAssociation of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa and said Thursdayhis goal is to establish an agreement between the three levels of government onwater levels management and flood mitigation on the Trent Severn Waterway.
“If we can get that in Ottawa that's ahome run” he said. “To me that is the goal.”
Minden Hills township was in a state ofemergency from May 6 to 26 during flooding this spring the second time in afour-year span the township declared a state of emergency due to flooding.
On Thursday the township was planning toreopen a section of Water Street that had been closed to traffic due to a watermain break during the flood.