Federal officials say now more than ever, communities need help adapting to the frequent and intensifying weather events caused by climate change.
Reducing the impact of natural disasters such as erosion and flooding is critical to keeping Canadian families safe, protecting local businesses and supporting a strong economy and the middle class.
Kate Young, Member of Parliament for London West and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, along with Brian McDougall, General Manager of the St. Clair Conservation Authority, announced on Tuesday funding for a disaster mitigation initiative along Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.
Federal officials say the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority will rehabilitate the shoreline at select locations along Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.
In recent years, high water levels, winds, ice jams and significant rain has contributed to several shoreline failures, which threatens existing infrastructure like roads, schools and parks.
The project will rehabilitate five structural and natural assets, helping to protect the shorelines from erosion while safeguarding residents of Sarnia and St. Clair from the dangers of high water levels and deteriorating retaining walls.
Once completed, this project will protect critical infrastructure, improve the safety and quality of life of 50,000 residents along the waterfront, and reduce the number of people directly affected and the local economic losses by approximately 80%.
This project is expected to generate $7.5 in long-term savings on recovery and replacement costs for every $1 invested.
Ultimately, this project will strengthen Sarnia and St. Clair’s resilience to extreme weather events and flooding while reducing potential economic and environmental impacts.
The Government of Canada is investing $8 million through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, and the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority is contributing $12.3 million.
“Taking concrete steps to adapt to the impacts of climate change is essential to ensuring a prosperous future for our kids and grandkids,” stated Young in a press release.
“By investing in this important disaster mitigation project, we are helping better protect residents of Sarnia and St. Clair against flooding and shoreline erosion while also greatly reducing the costs of recovery following extreme weather incidents.”
Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety, said in a press release that extreme weather is becoming more severe, more frequent, more damaging and more expensive because of climate change.
“By investing in the infrastructure that protects our neighbourhoods, businesses, and families, we are building communities that can withstand future natural disasters and thrive for generations to come,” Goodale stated in a media release.
McDougall said this funding will allow the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to continue fulfilling their mandate of protecting life and property from flooding and erosion.
“By rehabilitating severely impacted infrastructure along Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, the financial, environmental and emotional impacts associated with flooding and erosion events will be greatly reduced for our shoreline communities,” McDougall stated in a press release.
“We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for their generous support.”
Steve Miller, Deputy Mayor for St. Clair Township, said this is very exciting news for the community.
“The St. Clair River runs through the entire length of our township, and there are countless erosion problems due to high water levels,” he stated.
“Funding is essential for us to address erosion concerns and to protect our infrastructure, which includes roads, parks, campgrounds, boat launches and more.”
Federal officials say the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) is a $2-billion, 10 year program to help communities build the infrastructure they need to better withstand natural hazards such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes and droughts.
The program is part of the federal government’s Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, which is providing more than $180 billion over 12 years for public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and rural and northern communities.