Ontario appoints Manitoba expert as flooding advisor

The provincial government is turning to a man with decades of experience managing flooding in Manitoba to help do the same in Ontario.

Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski announced Thursday the province had appointed Doug McNeil as a special flooding advisor to review its flood management efforts and point out ways it could improve.

He will be paid up to $60,000 a year and will be expected to report back with recommendations this fall.

McNeil has worked for the City of Winnipeg and was once Manitoba’s deputy minister of infrastructure and transportation. He has worked on water management issues since the 1980s.

His work has included handling the historic 1997 Red River floods and subsequent efforts to try to lessen the impact of flooding, including expanding the Red River Floodway.

He retired in May as Winnipeg’s chief administrative officer after a four-year term at the job that saw calls for him to resign or be suspended over the handling of a road extension project.

Ontario has offered disaster relief money to flood victims and put together a task force to look at how it could better withstand floods in the wake of severe, record-breaking flooding in the Ottawa and Muskoka areas in May.

It’s also been criticized for cutting funding to conservation authorities, which monitor water levels and forecast floods, and heard calls from some mayors to investigate the causes of Ottawa River flooding.

Yakabuski said Thursday he’s written to the Quebec and federal governments to ask for help with that independent review.

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