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WHITEHORSE – The Official Opposition is calling on the Liberal government to learn from the lessons of last summer, and listen to Yukoners asking for proactive action to prepare for possible flooding again this summer after another winter of near-record snowfall.
“We appreciate the hard work done by government staff, contractors, and people who volunteered to help their fellow Yukoners during the flooding last summer,” said Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge. “That effort was commendable. There are also lessons that can be learned, including that with proactive planning and action, government can be better prepared to help people minimize the impact of rising water.”
Last summer, Yukoners came together in July and August to help people affected by historical flooding in the Southern Lakes and Lake Laberge areas. Lack of action by the Liberal government, made worse by their snap election call, delayed spring flood planning and the procurement of key supplies including sandbags. There were at times serious gaps in coordination of resources by government, as well as a lack of proactive action, leading to a lack of necessary help for some local residents when the water level rose.
Yukon Party MLAs have been listening to Yukoners who are offering suggestions for better preparation.
“We have a number of recommendations for the government based on listening to Yukoners,” said Cathers. “They include government investing in road improvements early in the summer, sandbag and groundwork preparation, as well as better communications and coordination.”
The first recommendation is to identify government infrastructure that would benefit from improvements before the water levels rise significantly. This should include raising the level of Jackfish Bay Road, and improvements to South McClintock Road.
Secondly, government should secure an area in Whitehorse where residents would be able to show up and fill sandbags to ship where needed. Several Whitehorse residents and businesses indicated they would have liked to help fill sandbags, but could not get out to the designated areas at Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge. Citizens were at times in urgent need of basics of flood preparation such as sandbags and sand, even as water threatened some homes.
In addition, completion of preventative groundwork at both Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge should happen in advance of potential flooding.
“Southern Yukon is experiencing another winter of near-record snowfall in some areas,” said Cathers. “We are urging the Liberal government to direct Community Services, Highways and Public Works, and other appropriate departments to begin preparing alongside residents for what is likely to be another summer of flooding. We hope this includes having the appropriate number of sandbags at the ready, a plan to fill those sandbags, and a better plan for communications and coordination.”
Finally, we urge the Liberal government to work in concert with the Yukon Energy Corporation on a plan to respond appropriately when it comes to YEC dam facilities and water levels in the Southern Lakes and Yukon River.