Discussing riverbank erosion

Provincial flood forecasters issued their first warnings of a risk of major overland flooding in the Red River basin this spring when they released their January 2017 conditions report.

Flooding naturally has a direct effect on riverbank erosion in Winnipeg, particularly in the Elmwood area just east of the Louise Bridge, where the damage from riverbank erosion is possibly the worst in the city.

Three Elmwood riverbank properties are experiencing particularly serious erosion problems. Many readers are aware of the La Salle Hotel’s mitigation efforts that have included expensive shoring-up construction costs for its owners. The neighbouring Columbus House Seniors’ Residence is also experiencing serious riverbank erosion, so much so they’ve already lost their beautiful observation deck and most of their green space behind the residence. With drainage patterns beside the building saturating the soil there, there’s no doubt that further erosion will eventually destabilize the entire building complex. And then there’s the neighbouring Al-Hijra School, right beside Columbus House, losing significant riverbank property every year, especially in larger flood events.

These erosion problems are serious. A few years ago, one private homeowner just downstream here in the Elmwood area actually lost her house when it eventually collapsed on the riverbank. In the 1990s, the Elmwood Cemetery just down river experienced significant damage when flooding actually damaged graves and exposed caskets after its owner abandoned the property. Soon after, under new community ownership, and with the help of some prominent Winnipeggers, the provincial government stepped in to help the City’s efforts to stabilize the riverfront and address the erosion issue there. I mention this because it serves as a precedent on what can be done to mitigate the damage to these properties in times of flooding.

If the senior’s association, Al-Hijra School, and the La Salle Hotel can approach the provincial government and the City with a common objective, this could be an important first step in protecting our riverbank.

It was great to see the residents of Columbus House at 404 DeSalaberry again on Feb. 6. Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) and I were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss their riverbank erosion issues and many other local concerns.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other provincial issues, please contact me at 204-415-1122 or email me at jim.maloway@yourmanitoba.ca