FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 21, 2022
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is calling on the Liberal government to learn from the lessons of last summer, and listen to Yukoners asking for proactive action to prepare for possible flooding again this summer after another winter of near-record snowfall.
“We appreciate the hard work done by government staff, contractors, and people who volunteered to help their fellow Yukoners during the flooding last summer,” said Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge. “That effort was commendable. There are also lessons that can be learned, including that with proactive planning and action, government can be better prepared to help people minimize the impact of rising water.”
Last summer, Yukoners came together in July and August to help people affected by historical flooding in the Southern Lakes and Lake Laberge areas. Lack of action by the Liberal government, made worse by their snap election call, delayed spring flood planning, and the procurement of key supplies including sandbags. There were at times serious gaps in coordination of resources by government, as well as a lack of proactive action, leading to a lack of necessary help for some local residents when the water level rose.
Yukon Party MLAs have been listening to Yukoners who are offering suggestions for better preparation.
“We have a number of recommendations for the government based on listening to Yukoners,” said Cathers. “They include government investing in road improvements early in the summer, sandbag and groundwork preparation, as well as better communications and coordination.”
The first recommendation is to identify government infrastructure that would benefit from improvements before the water levels rise significantly. This should include raising the level of Jackfish Bay Road, and improvements to South McClintock Road.
Secondly, government should secure an area in Whitehorse where residents would be able to show up and fill sandbags to ship where needed. Several Whitehorse residents and businesses indicated they would have liked to help fill sandbags, but could not get out to the designated areas at Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge. Citizens were at times in urgent need of basics of flood preparation such as sandbags and sand, even as water threatened some homes.
In addition, completion of preventative groundwork at both Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge should happen in advance of potential flooding.
“Southern Yukon is experiencing another winter of near-record snowfall in some areas,” said Cathers. “We are urging the Liberal government to direct Community Services, Highways and Public Works, and other appropriate departments to begin preparing alongside residents for what is likely to be another summer of flooding. We hope this includes having the appropriate number of sandbags at the ready, a plan to fill those sandbags, and a better plan for communications and coordination.”
Finally, we urge the Liberal government to work in concert with the Yukon Energy Corporation on a plan to respond appropriately when it comes to YEC dam facilities and water levels in the Southern Lakes and Yukon River.
The attached recommendations were developed based on feedback from Southern Lakes and Lake Laberge residents, as well as interested Yukoners.
Yukon Party Recommendations for Flood Preparation 2022
- Identify roads and other government infrastructure that would benefit from improvements early in the summer. This should include raising the level of Jackfish Bay Road and work on South McClintock Road.
- Set aside an area in Whitehorse easily accessible for residents to help fill sandbags for transport where needed.
- Secure the appropriate amount of sandbags and sand with corresponding equipment.
- Complete preventative groundwork at both Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge properties.
- Develop a plan to communicate flood information with local residents and all Yukoners.
- Work with the Yukon Energy Corporation on a response plan for YEC facilities in the Southern Lakes area.
- Engage with residents who were significantly affected in 2021 to advise them of preventative measures that could be taken.
- Provide an update on the status of any potential federal emergency funding applications on behalf of homeowners who suffered significant damage last summer.
- Work with members of Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (Yukon) and Yukon Energy to ensure that the floatplane maintenance bay on Schwatka Lake is useable in the event it is necessary to lower lake levels for flood mitigation.