$85.5M settlement 'fair outcome' for 2011 floods around Lake St. Martin First Nation: grand chief
AMC's Arlen Dumas says construction of outlet channels needed to help avoid more flooding this spring
Victims of the 2011 flooding of Lake Manitoba are still being impacted, says the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
On Thursday, however, a Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench order approved a settlement agreement of $85.5 million for anyone who owned real or personal property off nearby Lake St. Martin First Nation and within a 30-kilometre radius of the lake that was damaged by the 2011 floods.
Those affected have until April 14 to file a claim.
Since payments under the settlement agreement will be based on the number of people who come forward to make claims, it is not possible to estimate the amounts that eligible claimants may receive from the province.
In a statement Monday, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas called the decision "a fair outcome" for those who were victimized by the province's decision to flood Lake Manitoba, resulting in hundreds of homes and cottages around the lake being damaged or destroyed completely.
"The province is still paying for its decision to divert flood waters through the Interlake, affecting not only the property owners along the shores of Lake Manitoba, but several First Nations as well, including the Lake Manitoba First Nation and the Lake St. Martin First Nation amongst others," Dumas said.
The province was found partially responsible for the flooding in a Winnipeg courtroom last June.
In April 2018, the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench certified a class-action lawsuit that had been brought against the province by DD West LLP.
The law firm represented persons who owned property or carried on business within 30 kilometres of Lake Manitoba in 2011, excluding First Nation reserve lands.
Following the 2011 flood, First Nations such as Lake St. Martin "continue to suffer to this day from the displacement and impacts of the government policy that allowed their reserve lands and ancestral territories to be flooded," Dumas said.
The government "allowed their citizens to languish in hotel rooms in Winnipeg and elsewhere for a decade where, tragically, many died and never had a chance to return home," he said.
He added that without progress on outlet channel projects, the potential for more flooding in the Interlake remains as spring nears.
"Time is of the essence, and the Assembly asks that the province immediately engage with the affected First Nations to expedite the construction of the outlet channels to prevent and mitigate flood damage while protecting all Manitobans," Dumas said.