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Ontario releases flood inquiry report - Flooding despair far from over

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Added: Wed, 12/18/2019 - 2:26pm
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Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC AND PONTIAC – On November 28, Ontario released a report from Doug McNeil, Special Advisor on Flooding, who conducted an independent review of the 2019 flood in Ontario. John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, mandated him to the task in July and McNeil delivered his report to the Ontario government on October 31. 
In his review, McNeil says this spring’s record-setting flooding was caused by a combination of weather conditions: colder-than-average winter and spring, higher-than-average snowpack, lack of significant winter thaw, rapid snow melt and significant rain in the spring. 
He found nothing that pointed to human error or the negligent operation of dams as the cause of the flooding and determined that the government and its partners effectively reduced and mitigated flood risks.
Québec not following suit
According to Pontiac MNA André Fortin, although an official inquiry in Québec would be beneficial, an investigation isn’t in the works. “Even though there have been repeated calls by mayors, wardens, myself and the Parti Québécois, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has steadfastly refused to look into the causes of flooding. They insist the analysis would be lengthy, costly and unbeneficial. To us, it’s a question of respect for the victims to simply analyze and understand the causes of their plight. How can we work to prevent future floods if we don’t fully understand all the causes behind them?” he explained.
MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller also disagrees with the government and says an inquiry would be money well spent given the costs of the flood damage.
 “The two provinces share the Ottawa River; we were in this together and equally affected so we needed a collaborative study. The government should never be afraid to get the answers the public demands,” she said.
Fortin said his office hasn’t been able to get specifics from the government concerning the number of finalized claims in his riding, but they claim “most, if not all” files have received compensation.
While this may be true, many families are still far from being settled in their homes for the holidays, as file-finalizing delays combined with the winter season and a shortage of available contractors have put renovation projects on hold until next year. 
Away from home for the holidays
Brenda Tallon and her family have been out of their Davidson home since April and don’t expect to be able to return before next summer. They’re renting an apartment in Fort-Coulonge in the interim.
According to Tallon, her family received very little government compensation to renovate their home. “We didn’t agree with the amount and submitted a request for a second evaluation, but we recently got a letter saying our file was closed,” she said, noting they will poke away at the renovations over the winter, doing a little bit at a time, mostly on their own dime. 
While the situation has been extremely stressful, especially with Christmas approaching, Tallon said she and her husband’s focus is on making the best of it for their ten-year-old daughter. “We’re trying to do as much as we can so she doesn’t feel the blow as hard as we do,” she told the Journal.
While the couple couldn’t put up their usual large Christmas tree in the apartment, they have a smaller one and a “Charlie Brown” tree their daughter usually has in her bedroom, as well as some of her favourite things to make it feel more like home.
Government silence
The MRC Pontiac has passed nearly 50 resolutions concerning the flooding this year, but the provincial government hasn’t responded to any of them. During
the monthly meeting on November 20, the MRC’s Council of Mayors sent
another resolution reiterating the importance and urgency of conducting an independent inquiry, and demanded some form of communication from the provincial government.