Nahanni Butte needs relocating, MLA says

Nahanni Butte needs relocating, MLA says
As Nahanni Butte struggles to get back to normal after last spring’s flood and community evacuation, Nahendeh MLA Kevin Menicoche argues it might be time to consider relocating the community out of the current floodplain it sits in.Photo: James Tonka.

As Nahanni Butte struggles to get back to normal after last spring’s flood and community evacuation, Nahendeh MLA Kevin Menicoche argues it might be time to consider relocating the community out of the current floodplain it sits in.

“Climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent and more severe floods in our region,” Menicoche told the House during session last week.

“The community is suggesting a move of about 10 kilometres to the east side of the Liard River where the access road from the highway is. Community leaders are suggesting that it does make sense to relocate there on higher ground. Relocation could be a long-term solution, with community support, and this is a good time to re-evaluate this community.”

The flood level on the Liard River in June was higher than it had been in 50 years – higher than some elders had ever seen or experienced, Menicoche said.

“The people of Nahanni Butte do live in fear of it happening again. I also do not want to see us replacing the community gymnasium floor for a fourth time,” he said.

Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Robert C. McLeod said the department would consider the move if backed solidly by the 120 community members.

“If the community is serious about potential relocation, then we would have to look at identifying some resources to start the planning and working with the community on a possible relocation,” McLeod responded.

The federal government recently came forward with a disaster mitigation policy, which McLeod said could hopefully be applied to potential future floods.

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