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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is calling on the Yukon government to develop a comprehensive flood mitigation strategy that expands the emergency preparedness response to include strategic mitigation measures identified by Yukon communities and Yukoners.
With above-average snowfall and flooding over the past few years, Yukoners are anticipating continued flooding challenges due to climate change. Flood mitigation projects should be a priority during those summers when an emergency response is not required. The Minister of Community Services should inform those in flood-prone areas about flood preparation and mitigation measures the government is taking to prepare for snowmelt and rising water in the spring and summer of 2023 and beyond.
The Yukon Party Official Opposition has compiled a list of preparation and mitigation measures as suggested by Yukoners.
“Yukoners are telling my colleagues and myself what needs to be done to prepare in susceptible areas,” said Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers. “We recognize the government did take some action last year such as raising road levels and having more sandbags on standby, but more work is needed. As Yukoners adjust to increased risk of spring and summer flooding, the government should be doing the same.”
An example of a new potential flooding issue is developing in the Kluane region. There are reports of above-average ice levels approaching the underbelly of the Dezadeash Bridge. The Yukon Party Caucus has been told the change in channels have locals concerned about the spring break-up, and a potential washout of the bridge or road.
“While some areas of the Yukon have not received as much snow this winter than over the past two years, Yukoners are telling us they are already thinking about the potential of a spring flood,” added Cathers. “The Liberal government should be taking steps to help residents now, so everyone is ready for the spring and summer. It’s also time for government to shift from just responding to emergencies by developing a proactive, strategic flood mitigation strategy.”
The Yukon Party Official Opposition is suggesting a number of items to help with early flood preparation and mitigation.
- Identify roads and other government infrastructure that would benefit from improvements early in the season. This should include work on South McClintock Road, and drainage improvements along the Alaska Highway and Old Alaska Highway in Ibex Valley;
- Complete preventative groundwork at at-risk properties on Marsh Lake, Lake Laberge, the Yukon River, and the Takhini River;
- Work with the City of Whitehorse on shoreline protection to prevent erosion that is threatening residential properties on the Takhini River;
- Develop a plan to communicate flood information with local residents and all Yukoners;
- Establish and communicate a standing emergency plan for an area in Whitehorse easily accessible for residents to help fill sandbags for transport where needed;
- Secure the appropriate amount of sandbags and sand with corresponding equipment;
- Work with the Yukon Energy Corporation on a response plan for YEC facilities in the Southern Lakes area;
- Engage with residents who have been significantly affected over the past two years to advise them of preventative measures;
- Provide an update on the status of any potential federal emergency funding applications on behalf of homeowners who suffered significant damage;
- Work with members of Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (Yukon) and Yukon Energy to ensure that the floatplane maintenance bay on Schwatka Lake is useable in the event it is necessary to lower lake levels for flood mitigation;
- Conduct an engineering study of flood mitigations for Carmacks and Mayo with a plan to support the construction of a berm, or dike, to be built along the river similar to that of Dawson City;
- Complete engineering study and mitigations for the McConnell Lake area;
- Proactively work the Town of Watson Lake and the Liard First Nation to ensure the assessment of areas prone to flooding to determine adequate protection, and the Ross River Dene Council to determine what supports might be required for the upcoming flood season;
- Work with Yukon communities to develop a Yukon flood prevention and mitigation plan that identifies key work to ensure that permanent protection is in place to protect infrastructure from future flooding; and
- Adequately communicate plans with high-risk communities and local governments, but also provide all Yukoners with a plan.