Sourced from the Winnipeg Free Press
The federal and provincial governments have recognized the role that natural solutions can play in addressing the challenges of a changing world. Now, municipal leaders have the chance to play their part — and do it in a way that benefits local government and its ratepayers.
Manitoba reeves, mayors and councillors who have taken their seats in chambers following last Wednesday’s municipal elections will have the opportunity to make a real difference on a pressing issue in a way that previous councils could not.
Yes, we’ve talked about wetlands before, but recent developments have provided a new pragmatic argument for retaining and restoring even small ponds and marshes as a way to protect against flooding.
Instead of "wetland," "pond," "marsh," "slough," or even "nuisance," it may help to view these natural wonders, which reduce flooding by slowing runoff, as "green infrastructure" that provide municipalities with an affordable way to protect property and existing engineered infrastructure.
Don’t take just our word for it. A recently-released Insurance Bureau of Canada report describes natural infrastructure, including wetlands, as a cost-effective flood-protection alternative to "grey infrastructure" such as dams, water treatment plants and reservoirs.
The report’s subtitle, "Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option," easily applies to rural Manitoba municipalities.
The floods of 2011 and 2014 cost Manitobans an estimated $1 billion each — mostly in the form of lost or unseeded crops, but councillors will also recall blown-out culverts and washed-out roads.