MH township to hold public meeting on flood
By Chad Ingram
Published June 29, 2017
Minden Hills township will host a public meeting for residents who were affected by May flooding. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for July and will be confirmed once a moderator is acquired.
Councillors discussed the organization of the town hall-style meeting in a lengthy conversation during a June 29 council meeting.
Reeve Brent Devolin has said numerous times there would be an opportunity for residents to make their concerns regarding the flood known, and to ask questions.
“There's people that want to tell their stories,” Devolin said Thursday. “They want to say how they were affected.”
Devolin has said that while the emergency phase of the flood is now over – a state of emergency that had been declared in Minden Hills was lifted May 26 – the township is still in the recovery phase, and that staff have continued to work on flood-related matters.
The first post-flood debriefing meeting between the municipality's control group and government agencies such as Parks Canada, which operates the Trent Severn Waterway, took place on Tuesday, June 27.
“There are a number of things that are already in process that the general public is not aware of,” Devolin said. “I think there's a lot of misunderstanding on that.”
A number of frustrated residents gathered for a meeting regarding the flood at the Dominion Hotel on Monday night.
That meeting was moderated by former Minden Hills councillor Brigitte Gall, who ran against Devolin for the reeve's seat in the 2014 election, and whose neighbourhood was affected by the flood.
“There were a lot of people who needed and wanted to do more than just ‘tell their stories and grieve,’” Gall told the paper following the heated meeting. “They want an assurance that our municipal council, staff and provincial partners are hearing us, and acknowledging that we are not content to simply be the catch basin for antiquated expectations of water management, climate change, and political hand wringing.”
Devolin, who also resides in a flood-affected area, was invited to that meeting but declined to attend, telling the paper he thought he would probably be the “elephant in the room.”
Council discussed how a public meeting would unfold, likely with an overview of municipal operations during the flood, before opening the floor up to questions.
“So, who is going to be speaking?' asked Councillor Lisa Schell. “Who is going to be answering questions? Will the TSW and MNRF be there?”
“We can ask,” Devolin said. “We can't tell them to come.”
The reeve said he thought the meeting would require a moderator and councillors seemed to agree that a trusted member of the community would be best suited for that role. While July 17 or 18 were suggested as tentative dates for the meeting, the township will wait and schedule the meeting based on the availability of a moderator.
During the flood of 2013, then-Minden Hills reeve Barb Reid held a public meeting where she fielded questions from the public, alongside representatives from Parks Canada.
Devolin has said that local politicians will be seeking a delegation with cabinet ministers during this summer's Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa and said Thursday his goal is to establish an agreement between the three levels of government on water levels management and flood mitigation on the Trent Severn Waterway.
“If we can get that in Ottawa, that's a home run,” he said. “To me, that is the goal.”
Minden Hills township was in a state of emergency from May 6 to 26 during flooding this spring, the second time in a four-year span the township declared a state of emergency due to flooding.
On Thursday, the township was planning to reopen a section of Water Street that had been closed to traffic due to a water main break during the flood.