Sudbury

Conservation authorities vowing to protect flood control programs, despite provincial cuts

While keeping a watch on floodwaters, conservation officials in northeastern Ontario also have an eye on their budgets this spring.

Conservation authorities see provincial flood funding cut by 48 per cent

Conservation authority officials are facing a 48 per cent in the provincial funding they receive to monitor flood conditions. (Erik White/CBC )

While keeping a watch on floodwaters, conservation officials in northeastern Ontario also have an eye on their budgets this spring.

That's because the provincial government recently cut the funding for flood controls in half.

Rhonda Bateman, the general manager of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority, says the 48 per cent cut in their hazard funding, means the budget for flood control programs will drop by $63,000 this year to $68,000. 

"We're looking of course at spending options in other areas of the conservation authority," she says. 

"This program is very core to what we do and we're not going to jeopardize the protection and safety of the public."

The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority is looking to make up for a $125,000 cut in the provincial share of its funding and the board is meeting Wednesday to look at options.

Conversation Sudbury is a similar position, with its flood control funding going down by $77,000 this year.

General manager Carl Jorgensen says the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris cut the provincial funding for flood controls by 75 per cent in the 1990s.

He says the annual amount sat unchanged at $154,000, which is matched by area municipalities, until the 48 per cent cut announced in the recent provincial budget.

Water levels are up across northeastern Ontario, including on the Whitson River in the valley area of Greater Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC )

Jorgensen says Conservation Sudbury is also looking to find that $77,000 elsewhere in its operations, instead of cutting from flood control. 

"We will have to shift funds from other programs," he says. 

"We're not all of a sudden going to say we're only going to do flood forecasts every second day."

Jorgensen says the details will be hammered out at an upcoming board meeting, when he expects Conservation Authority will also be "generating somekind of message" for the provincial government. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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