Menzies wants federal government to protect High River
Flood 2013: MP to use "political capital" to support town
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 07, 2013 06:00 am
High River’s representative in Ottawa is preparing to go to bat for the town to get the federal government to support work to protect the community from floods.
Macleod MP Ted Menzies said he has a lot of “political capital” built up after nine years in Parliament and he’s prepared to put to use to work on the town’s behalf.
He said there have been several of proposals made over the years for ways to protect High River from floods, but nothing has been done. Menzies said it might take a little political clout to finally move the issue forward.
“The reason I say it will take some political capital is because we’ve had reports, we’ve had all sorts of people talking about ‘we’ve got to do this, we got to get this done,’” he said. “At all levels of government, there’s plenty of blame to go around at all levels of government, that I think it’s time we actually got all levels of government together and agreed on what needs to be done.”
According to Menzies, a range of ideas have been suggested in the past include, building berms, reservoirs and re-routing the Highwood River.
He won’t suggest any options in particular, but said the ultimate solution could include a number of these ideas.
“It’s too early to suggest A, B or C,” he said. “It’s not to early to suggest that we are going to do something, even if it’s a combination of all of those.”
While potential projects will cost money, Menzies said they won’t be as expensive as what it will take to rebuild the community to get it back to normal.
Menzies said provincial and municipal governments would take the lead, but he hopes to provide a better connection to the federal government to get departments like Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada onside for potential solutions.
“At this point there is no role for the federal government, other than making sure that the regulations in place don’t stop this from happening,” he said.
Menzies hopes to get representatives from a broad section of the community involved.
“We got a lot of people interested in making sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “So, if we all come together, look at these reports, talk to some of the locals, talk to some of the First Nations elders that know the history… I think we can come to a positive conclusion.”
Menzies said solutions will need to protect the environment, fisheries and private property, while recognizing the need to ensure High River is protected into the future.
“When we’ve had 13,000 people that were evacuated, we have to look at how we can prevent that,” he said.
Soon after the floods, Menzies announced he won’t seek re-election and asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to re-appoint him to cabinet so he can focus on flood recovery efforts in his last two years in office. He said he has the time to work on the issue now that he is not on federal cabinet.
“I’m going to be there to make sure that we push it along and get it done,” he said.