WINNIPEG — Manitoba flood forecasters are praising Mother Nature after dry weather and a slow melt have so far eased the province’s flood risk, but the threat of flooding in the Red River Valley and elsewhere still remains.
Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler says flooding is expected to be at or “marginally above” 2009 levels with normal to unfavourable weather conditions.
“The Red River will once again carry a significant amount of water north, requiring the operation of the Red River Floodway and additional measures taken in partnership with local municipalities,” Schuler said.
Schuler says water is expected to remain below the top of ring dikes, but the chance remains that some will need to be closed off. The same risk is still in place for Highway 75, which may also be forced to close as the province has yet to fully raise it near the town of Morris. Schuler says that construction work is at least another two years away.
The Red River is expected to crest at Emerson near the U.S. border between April 12-23, depending on the weather.
Schuler once again said the above-zero daytime highs and below-freezing overnights lows has helped to reduce snow pack slowly.
“This kind of weather is perfect for us,” he said Wednesday.
“We’ve said what we really needed to do was to pray for warm days and freezing at night and — ta-dah — we got it. And so far so good.
“It doesn’t mean that things might not change in a week, and we do have some time before we see the peak coming.”
The government has issued tenders for contractors to be on standby in case ring dikes need to be closed.
One obstacle the Progressive Conservative government has faced has been in the legislature.
Independent member Steven Fletcher blocked the government last week from passing an interim supply bill — legislation that lets the government start spending in the fiscal year that starts April 1 before its annual budget is formally adopted.
The legislature is now on a break until Monday. Schuler said he hopes the bill can be passed that day so that the government can continue to operate. Even if the bill is somehow delayed further, flood work and any other needed spending will occur, he said.
“We will use whatever measures necessary to protect Manitobans.”
— With files from The Canadian Press