By Chad Ingram
Published May 11 2017
A dark wave of déjà vu shot through Minden last Thursday aswater levels that had been steadily rising in the Gull River for days reached acritical point.
With swaths of the Riverwalk pathway submerged the Gullbegan snaking its way across Invergordon Avenue to conspire with the risingwetland quietly plotting to overtake the boardwalk on the other side of thestreet.
North of Minden many of the reservoir lakes of the TrentSevern Waterway sat bloated their shores already swelled as Parks Canada heldwater back in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the disastrous flood of 2013.
Then the sky went thick with grey the kind of grey thatannounces it’s not only going to rain but it’s going to rain for days.
A familiar scenario. A perfect storm. A calamity in themaking.
Friday witnessed the closure of Invergordon Anson OrdeMcKnight and other arteries close to the river and as water continued to peltfrom the sky onto saturated ground it was unsurprising on Saturday when MindenHills township declared a state of emergency.
A state of emergency – which will allow the municipalityaccess to provincial resources – was similarly declared in 2013. Thankfullychanges to Ontario’s disaster relief legislation mean no community fundraising willbe required this time around.
While an automatic reaction may be the pointing ofproverbial fingers at Parks Canada its staff does its best with a complexsystem that funnels water from nearly 30 lakes through the narrow shallowcanal of the Gull River as it passes through the heart of Minden. There is noother exit.
However that is not to suggest that things couldn’t be donebetter or that operations should not be continually reviewed particularlywhen it comes to storage levels and draw-downs heading into flood season.
Another major flood so quickly on the heels of the one in2013 has also made it clear that Minden Hills township in concert with otherlevels of government will have to do some serious work along the Gull Riverwhere it runs through the village. The once-a-century flood in Minden hasalways been a myth. They happen much more frequently. With two states ofemergency declared in four years and with levels quite high in the spring of2016 as well what has unfolded in Minden during the past week is not theexception to any rule. In fact it appears to be the new normal.
Changing weather patterns will mean more severe flooding forMinden in the springs to come. Protecting the community will require physicalalterations to the Gull River; deepening/widening higher banks flood wallsetc.
It’s been done before. The riverbanks as they exist werebuilt up after devastating floods.
It will be complicated and incredibly expensive requiringmillions of dollars.
But it must be done for the safety and eventuallysurvival of the community.