NPCA to host floodplain mapping open houses Feb. 25 and 29

Grimsby Lincoln News

WEST LINCOLN – The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority wants to hear the public’s thoughts on floodplain mapping for the Welland River and its tributaries.

A series of open houses began last week (Feb. 3) in Chippawa, and will continue through February with a second in Welland before two take place in West Lincoln. The open houses are meant to provide information on the NPCA’s floodplain mapping and seek input from residents.

“We want to make sure we listen to the community and their concerns,” said Peter Graham, director of watershed management at the NPCA.

Current flood lines date back to 1985, and outline where flooding could occur in the case of a one-year and 100-year storm. In 2010 the NPCA received backlash when it hired a consulting firm to update the mapping and little to no public consultation was done.

When residents complained the NPCA formed a group to look at the issue, and eventually decided to scrap those plans and start again fresh.

“We’re making sure we do it right,” said Graham.

While the 2010 process only looked at a specific high-risk portion of the river, this time around the NPCA will be considering the entire river, from Binbrook to Chippawa.

Graham said the first meeting went well, and was pleasantly surprised at the high turnout. For the more than 100 people who came out, they were able to show on a large map where they lived, before listening to a 20-minute presentation. After the presentation there was a structured question-and-answer session before breaking in to smaller groups where residents could talk to NPCA officials as well as experts from MMM Consulting, the group hired for this process.

Those attending can also fill out a comment card.

“There was a lot of constructive feedback and information conveyed,” Graham said about the Feb. 3 meeting.

Since the process has only just begun Graham said it’s too early to get a sense of what the major themes and issues are going to be. MMM Consulting will be collecting all the responses and comment cards and condensing them into the major issues.

The NPCA will then return to the public in April for more input on the technical side of the process and return a third time to present the draft maps and get final input. After that the NPCA board will vote on the updated maps.

At the same time as the flood lines are being updated the NPCA is also looking at its floodplain policies. Existing policies dictate things such as development and construction in floodplain areas. A review of those policies will be completed concurrently to the mapping. It’s something Graham said makes sense.

The two West Lincoln meetings take place Feb. 25 at the Caistor Community Centre, 1683 Abingdon Rd., and Feb. 29, at the Wellandport Community Centre, 5042 Canborough Rd. in Wellandport.

Both meetings run from 6 to 8 p.m. The formal presentation will take place at 6:30.

For more information, visit wellandriver.ca, where you can also provide input if you’re unable to make either meeting.

ledwards@niagarathisweek.com