Fisheries joins flood control effort

Marsh Lake boaters face fines this weekend if they fail to comply with a speed limit set by federal officials.

Marsh Lake boaters face fines this weekend if they fail to comply with a speed limit set by federal officials.

Wake on Marsh Lake has been a constant problem for residents sandbagging their properties as they fight record water levels.

The resulting waves wreak havoc on sandbag efforts and further erode shorelines.

Fisheries and Oceans officials will patrol the lake this weekend following a request from the Yukon’s Emergency Measures Organization.

“Weekends are a busy time for boating so we’ve posted speed limits and notices,” said Henri Ragetli, a fishing officer with the department.

Boaters are restricted to 10 kilometres per hour when within 75 metres of the north shoreline of Marsh Lake and the M’Clintock River downstream from the Alaska Highway, and the Six Mile River from Tagish Lake.

Offenders will be ticketed.

Thursday, Premier Dennis Fentie and government officials toured the Southern Lakes region to survey the flood damage.

“The devastation is obvious,” Fentie told a late-afternoon news conference. “The response and efforts on the ground are making a big difference.

“We are actually saving residents and properties. The resources we have on the ground are very effective.”

Flood relief is expensive, but Fentie won’t discuss hard numbers until after the situation improves.

Water levels in the region have dropped two centimeters, bringing them below historic highs, said EMO spokesperson Doug Caldwell.

“I wouldn’t want to say the water is going down, but it’s reached a plateau right now,” said Caldwell. “If we see another decrease this weekend, we could say we’ve reached the peak.”

A berm is being built along the Army Beach Road to keep the main throughway open.

Three 25.4-centimetre water pumps will pump nearly 45.4 million litres of water out of the area, said Caldwell.

Residents are reminded to look for and secure hazardous material like cans of paint or gas found on their properties.

Thursday afternoon, Fentie flew to Watson Lake to survey damage in the townsite.

The visit to the Southern Lakes region crisis contrasts with his government’s response to the mass resignation of ambulance volunteers in Watson Lake.

Fentie refused to attend a public meeting in his constituency. He still hasn’t met with ambulance volunteers.

Working conditions have improved, but the government can only go so far.

After that, volunteers have a decision to make, he said.

“If we’re going to get into a situation where the principle of conviction for volunteerism is not in place, that’s a different story,” said Fentie.

“What’s going on in the Southern Lakes region and the success we’re having there is because of that conviction to volunteerism.

“As far as the ambulance workers, the facts are we’ve talked, we’re working with them and have been for sometime. That’s what should be printed. Anything else is BS.”

Flooding is damaging Watson Lake’s infrastructure, prompting a visit, he said.

EMO has yet to receive any reports about significant damage in Watson Lake, said Caldwell, adding he’s heard anecdotally about “a few flooded basements” after a large downpour.