A Leadership Leap of Faith

October 25, 2019

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Wednesday October 9th, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. marked the first time in the history that the Red River Floodway has been in operation in the fall. 

With above normal rainfall in September and October, and a vicious Thanksgiving weekend snowstorm that not only dumped a pile of precipitation but crushed trees destroying approximately 10% of Winnipeg’s tree canopy, downed hydro lines also left thousands of Manitobans without power for almost two weeks. 

Cleaning up the mess and dealing with the high water caused many communities to declare a state of emergency. 

On October 22nd at James Avenue in Winnipeg, levels were recorded at 16.8 feet compared spring 2019 flood crest, which was 17.7 feet James on April 15.

It is times like these when we ought to say a big thank you to former Premier Duff Roblin – leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party (1958-67) for his bold leadership and tenacious drive for making the Red River Floodway a reality. The Floodway has not only saved many communities in the Winnipeg METRO Region from the devastation of floods, but the protection it will offer as we manage the impacts of a changing climate and unpredictable weather patterns in the future cannot be underestimated.

As Roblin continued to champion the Red River Floodway, which opened a year after he left public office in 1968, this engineering marvel was also made possible by the collaboration between different levels of government.  Roblin managed to secure a commitment from the federal government and from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to pay up to 60% of the construction costs.

Despite the fierce opposition, by even some in his party who believed the project was a monumental waste of money, Roblin showed tremendous leadership.   Ultimately he has left a legacy that is felt and appreciated today.  

The floodway project demonstrates the importance of elected leaders planning for and completing projects that pay off over long periods of time.  These types of projects are so consequential that they span multiple election cycles. These are a good demonstration of the power of working together across all levels of government.

This type of bold leadership is the same type of attitude required to adapt and navigate through the challenges we face here in Manitoba today.  As we prepare for our future and  continue to collaborate across the Winnipeg METRO Region, we look forward to working with the new Minister for Conservation and Climate, Sarah Guillemard. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and digging in the made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan. These ambitious targets are just the type thing that will  help us to secure our future. 

We cannot be sure what the future will hold for us, but it is my hope that we can address the challenges with the same bold leadership and vision that Premier Roblin showed back in the 1950’s.

Check out some other Floodway photos below!


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