By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Cobourg council moved a step closer to having a Flood Mitigation and Response Plan with the motion at Monday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting to direct staff to produce such a plan (in consultation with the Ganaraska Region Conservation authority and other relevant agencies) for consideration no later than Sept. 14.
Councillor Emily Chorley pointed out that, even after record-high Lake Ontario levels in 2019, the problem isn’t likely to go away. At this point in 2020, compared to the same point last year, lake levels are 23 cm higher.
“Last year I toured several properties, and I know other councillors did too, to see the damage caused by flooding and erosion,” Chorley said.
“I wanted to reassure residents that we are doing everything at our disposal to enhance our preparedness for any flood emergency.”
The GRCA does have a flood contingency policy, she pointed out, but its primary purpose is to alert municipalities in co-ordinating a response. It is clear that municipalities have the primary responsibility and authority for meaningful response and the protection of people and property.
“The Ontario government says flooding is now the most costly and increasing natural hazard across the province,” Chorley said.
Between climate change and the Plan 2014 devised by the International Joint Commission to govern Great Lakes levels, she continued, no relief is in sight.
“Last year I too walked around looking at the floods and the damage – plus the damage to our own marina,” Councillor Adam Bureau said.
“I think this is a new thing and, to me, a pretty high priority, and a high priority for a lot of people in Cobourg.”
“With the indicators the water levels are already higher than they were last year, we saw the damage that was done,” Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin said.
“To me, this is a very important aspect for a waterfront community with a lot of homeowners that live on the water.”
“Since I have been on council, we’ve had a number of issues, but I know council is very aware that a number-one issue remains flooding,” Mayor John Henderson declared.
Councillor Nicole Beatty voiced her support for the new policy and also for the March 21 Flood Erosion Mitigation Symposium that the town had organized and was forced to cancel by the pandemic – which she hopes will be rescheduled at a post-pandemic time.