Farmers want government to pay up for flooded crops
Parks Canada says wet spring, not Rideau River management, to blame for flooding crops
A group of nearly two dozen Ottawa-area farmers want financial compensation from the federal government for destroyed crops.
They claim portions of their lands have been flooded due to high water levels on the Rideau River, which is overseen and managed by Parks Canada.
Dwight Foster's family has owned North Gower Grains for generations. He's just one of nearly two dozen farmers in the area facing the same problem.
"I'm very frustrated … " he said. "This group of farmers that's affected here, it's hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Foster said he noticed the drains on his property backing up about three weeks ago.
Water from his land normally flows into various municipal drains, eventually making its way to the Rideau River.
"If the water in the Rideau system is high, then the water won't flow out of our fields," he said.
Parks Canada says unusually wet spring to blame
This isn't the first time his lands have been flooded, Foster said, so he invested in extra drainage systems to try to help.
But it hasn't been working, and now Foster wants the government to pay for his ruined crops.
Parks Canada, however, said it's not reponsible for the flooding.
"We've been maintaining water levels on the Rideau River consistently, within a five-centimetre range, for decades," said Jewel Cunningham, director of Ontario waterways for Parks Canada.
The department said it understands farmers' frustrations, but said heavy rainfalls are to blame.
"Natural water courses are full of water in Ontario right now, due to the fact that we've had a really wet spring," Cunningham said, "and the same challenges exist for the Rideau River."
Parks Canada said later via e-mail it manages water levels through the "many dams" along the Rideau Canal, tracking rainfall and water levels every hour through a remote system.
The two sides will meet Thursday night at the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority along with local MPPs to see if a solution can be found.