WINNIPEG – Over the past few decades, the Red and Assiniboine rivers have been causing heavy erosion. What was once on the riverbanks, is now floating at the bottom of the rivers.
The picturesque bank along both rivers has seen its fair share of wear and tear. City officials said some areas facing erosion, especially at the top of the bank, have moved back about one foot per year or at least 300 millimeters per year.
Hardest Hit Riverbanks
Kendall Thiessen is the River Bank Management Engineer with the City of Winnipeg, and said it could roughly take $200 million to fully stabilize the riverbanks for both the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
“We’ve got about $55 million of work that we’ve identified as our priority sites and close to $200 million worth of work if we looked at our top priority and moderate priority sites,” Thiessen said.
However, none of this money is set aside for the private areas along the riverbank. The Van Elslander’s have been living along the riverbank for over 50 years on Dunkirk Drive and said they have literally watched their property disappear right before their eyes.
“We were just [a] young foolish couple buying a house and now as you can see we’ve lost our trees, we’ve lost our sod,” Norm Van Elslander said.
City Councillor, Brian Mayes, who is also the chair for the Water Waste River Bank Management and Environment Committee, said there just isn’t enough money to help couples like the Van Elslanders.
In fact, the city said stabilization projects usually cost more than $1 million. This means they often have to save for several years to complete just a single project.
As the city watches the river banks decay, the Van Elslander’s said they have spent the years watching history disintegrate.
“From where I’m standing right now, I would say I’ve lost almost 100 feet,” Elslander said.
After Global News took a ride down the Red River it was clear to see that erosion definitely hit many areas of the riverbank, especially around the areas where the river bends. Earth tends to slide when it comes to erosion, but it’s especially common along outside bends of the river where the water crashes into the banks and pulls down sediment.
While this is all a natural process and inevitable for the riverbanks that surround us, it’s also something the city said it’s committed to working around and rebuilding.
“Doing nothing is an option, but it’s not a very good option because we’re going to have our parks and golf courses and roads falling in to the river,” Mayes said.