January 5, 2004

Manitoba, Ottawa sign $240M funding accord for Red River floodway

WINNIPEG, MAN-A $240-million funding agreement signed by the federal and Manitoba governments will support the expansion of the Red River floodway around Winnipeg. This marks the largest federal-provincial investment partnership in Manitoba since the construction of the original floodway in the 1960s. "The Floodway expansion has been Manitoba's top infrastructure priority and this signing is an important milestone," said Premier Gary Doer. "Engineering for the project has been ongoing for some time and the environmental approval process is well underway. With the signing of this agreement we can begin preparing for the excavation and construction work to begin." After the 1997 flood, regarded as "the flood of the century," the International Joint Commission concluded that "the risk of failure of Winnipeg's existing flood protection infrastructure is high under flow conditions similar to or greater than those experienced in 1997." It was projected that flooding resulting from such a system failure could cause up to $6 billion in damage to Winnipeg. In April 2003, Prime Minister Chr√ątien and Premier Doer each committed $80 million to the floodway expansion project. Then in August, the federal government declared the project a national priority under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, and the two levels of government increased their commitment by $40 million each. Funding now in place is expected to bring flood protection to a level capable of dealing with a once-in-280-year flood (similar to one that occurred in 1826). When completed, the expanded floodway will afford protection for a once-in-700-year event.
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