Snow stalls photo shoot
The recent snowfall has further delayed the initial phase of South Glengarry’s emergency preparedness plan aimed at helping local authorities better proactively deal with and prevent the effects of flooding.
The township was notified in early May that its application to the federal government’s National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) in the amount of $116,000 – to be used to establish and implement the emergency protocol – was successful.
The municipality had intended to start the project the previous month, but the later-thananticipated funding announcement caused a delay.
At the most recent regular council meeting on November 19, Joanne Haley, the township’s general manager of community services, explained that the first phase of the project – LiDar, or light detection and ranging, aerial photography and surveying of 48 square kilometres of vulnerable areas of the township near the St. Lawrence and Raisin rivers – had been stalled yet again, this time by Mother Nature.
“Originally, the federal government said that they’d be making the (funding) announcement at the end of March 2018, which would have allowed us to proceed with the LiDar mapping in early May,” said Mrs. Haley.
“Unfortunately, the announcement didn’t come out until later on in May, which meant that we were going to be flying near the beginning of November.”
Airborne Imaging Inc., an international firm with offices in Calgary and Ottawa, was
awarded the contract for the LiDar mapping photography on November 6.
“They were waiting for good weather, and now with the snow on the ground, it’s possible that the flying might not even occur in 2018,” said Mrs. Haley.
“This part of the project can only occur in the seasons where there is ‘leaf off’ or very little vegetation to allow for very clear imaging to be taken.”
Mrs. Haley added, “We can’t have any snow on the ground to get proper LiDar.” The early taste of winter likely means that the aerial photography won’t take place until next spring.
“That leaves us with a very tight time frame, working with our engineering firm, as well as to do all the emergency planning studies that are required to fulfill the needs of the federal government grant,” said Mrs. Haley. “And we have been told that there will be no flexibility for the deadline (March 31, 2020), or for an extension of that deadline. But we will work with the federal government to see if that is possible.”
Mayor Ian McLeod conceded that council’s hands are tied.
“I think we have to make sure that we have the proper conditions so that we can get some reliable data that can be utilized in the future,” said Mayor McLeod.
“And I realize that at the back end it’s going to take a lot of work, but I think we’re going to have to go that route.”
Other components of the township’s emergency preparedness plan include the completion of modelling for both bodies of water to determine their flooding potential, and the preparation of an emergency response plan specific to flooding along the St. Lawrence River.
The total cost of the project is $249,250.
Council had previously earmarked $120,000 for the initiative, with in-kind time from both the township and the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) – in addition to the $116,000 received from the federal government – covering the remainder.
Mrs. Haley stressed the importance of the aerial photography and surveying component of the emergency preparedness plan in an interview with The News this past May.
“Right now, our flood plain mapping is so old, we don’t know if it’s accurate or not,” she said.
“Sometimes, we’re having to get people to spend more money just to do new surveys to prove the mapping to be incorrect.”