Flooding scaring away tourists

Flooding scaring away tourists

Mattawa-area resort fielding cancellations despite being on Lake Champlain


Nicole Grigorov cringes every time she receives an email.

“I just lost a $40,000 reservation in June,” says the owner of the Mattawa River Resort. “Before a state of emergency was called for the Town of Mattawa, I had a waiting list for this long weekend. All of my 16 cabins were booked and now I have four cabins reserved.”

Grigorov says people from southern Ontario are cancelling their reservations after hearing the news about the flooding in Mattawa. As of Friday, there were nine cancellations.

“The cancellations started early May once the emergency was declared. The first cancellation was from a family from the Greater Toronto Area which reserved three cabins,” she says.

“Then the emails started to come. People have also started to call worried about their July reservation and wondering if everything will be OK by then.”

What’s extremely frustrating is that Mattawa River Resort isn’t part of the area under a state of emergency, Grigorov explains.

“We’re located on Lake Champlain and the lake remains open for boating and fishing. People can still come here and fish. I need people to come here and stay in our cabins and eat in the restaurant.”

But while Grigorov struggled to keep her doors open, she didn’t hesitate to reach out to those who were evacuated from a flooded-out Mattawa apartment building.

Up to 25 people were staying at the resort for free for the past two weeks.

“These people were forced out of their homes with nothing, just the clothes on their back. I gave them clothes from the resort and found supplies they needed, they were fed and had a clean and safe bed to sleep in.”

But as the tourism season approached, Grigorov asked the community and Red Cross to help find permanent placements for those displaced.

“It’s a lot to keep the cabins clean, keep up with laundry while continuing to pay our employees even though those staying with us are staying for free,” Grigorov said.

Navigation now prohibited on Mattawa and Ottawa rivers

Minister Garneau announces changes to navigation restrictions related to flooding 

News release

May 14, 2019                Ottawa                          Transport Canada

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, issued a new Interim Order identifying zones in which navigation is prohibited due to flooding. The changes are necessary to protect the safety of people and vessels, and to help first responders do their jobs in flooding conditions.

In addition, the public is urged to continue to stay off flooded waterways in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick  to ensure navigational safety, and prevent damage to infrastructure and the environment.

Due to the magnitude of this year’s flooding, and following consultations with local authorities and law enforcement, Minister Garneau has extended the areas covered by the navigation restrictions. To ensure vessel movements do not pose a risk to the safety of individuals or cause damage to the environment, properties and infrastructure, the Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam and the Deux Montagnes Lake, and the Mattawa River between Hurdman Dam and confluence of Mattawa River and Ottawa River have been included in this new Interim Order Respecting Flooded Areas.  In the listed areas, navigation by non-emergency vessels is strictly prohibited.  This includes pleasure craft and human-powered craft, such as canoes or kayaks. The Interim Order does not apply to public ferry service in the waters listed below. 

This new Interim Order builds on the one issued on April 30 and now applies to the following waterways:

  • the Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam (near Mattawa, Ontario) and the Deux Montagnes Lake (near Hudson, Quebec);
  • the Mattawa River, between Hurdman Dam and confluence of Mattawa River and Ottawa River;
  • Deux Montagnes Lake in the Province of Québec;
  • the Mille Îles River in the Province of Québec; and
  • the Des Prairies River in the Province of Québec.

The speed restriction of 9 knots for upriver traffic and 11 knots for downriver traffic remains in place between Ile des Barques and Batiscan, Quebec.

Individuals who can only access their property by boat are exempted from the Interim Order and other restrictions for the purpose of going to and from their property. If citizens must use a waterway to access a property, they are urged to navigate at as slow a speed as possible.

Any violations of these provisions are subject to fines. Speed violations between Ile des Barques and Batiscan can go up to $1 million and/or up to 18 months in prison, or the seizure of the vessel.

Minister Garneau also announced that communities in Muskoka Region are no longer part of the Interim Order Respecting Flooded Areas due to improved navigational safety conditions including lower water levels and slower currents. However, all vessel operators are asked to be cautious on the waters, including watching for debris and adjusting vessel speeds to limit wake.


“Although we have expanded the area covered by  the Interim Order, I am pleased to see the improved situation in the Muskoka area. We continue to work with municipalities and law enforcement to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau                                        
Minister of Transport

Associated links


Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Mattawa’s Backer calls for investigation

Mattawa’s Backer calls for investigation

Mayor frustrated over short flood notice

Published on: May 13, 2019 | Last Updated: May 13, 2019 9:16 PM EDT

Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer says he supports a public inquiry into why the town received relatively short notice ahead of the planned release of water into the Ottawa River that has flooded the surrounding area.

Backer says the Ontario Ombudsman will “definitely” be part of the conversation also as he continues to seek answers, including from Ontario Power Generation, to why he wasn’t notified sooner before the Otto Holden Dam was opened May 6.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “We’re one small municipality compared to all of them that’s been affected, right through Latchford down to the City of Ottawa.

“But I will guarantee you that I will get all our counterparts that are part of the whole Ottawa River system and the Ottawa River planning board, all their mayors and councillors, we’ll get together and definitely get some answers from the people who make these decisions.”

The town has been under a week-long state of emergency as flooding from the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers continues to threaten shoreline properties and displace residents from their homes.

Approximately four to five businesses on Main Street have been evacuated, Backer said, along with 10 to 15 homes.

A notice from Nipissing-Parry Sound Student Transportation Services says all busing in the Mattawa corridor has been cancelled today and a voluntary evacuation order remains in place for a number of streets.

Nipissing Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli did not reference a public inquiry in a statement to The Nugget, but said the province’s No. 1 priority is public safety and the protection of communities.

“Our government is committed to protecting what matters most — and that includes protecting our homes, businesses and infrastructure that keeps our economy moving.”

Fedeli said the province is “demonstrating leadership” by creating an internal flood protection task force that will meet this week and consult with municipal partners and other stakeholders.

“We want to assure the people of Ontario that our government is taking action to better plan for and reduce the impacts of flooding. We will continue to deploy all resources at our disposal to help Ontario families. We are committed to working with our partners in emergency services to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.”

Meanwhile, the town has reduced Main Street to one lane as engineers monitor the structural integrity of a 10-unit apartment building at 298 Main St., which was one of the first buildings to be evacuated, as well as the berms that have been erected along Mattawan Street.

Backer said water and debris risk damaging the berms. The town and Ontario Provincial Police are asking the public to keep boats off the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers so the wakes they create won’t erode the berms.

As for the short notice, the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board has pointed to an alert issued the Friday before the state of emergency was declared warning of potential flooding in Mattawa.

But Backer referred to dialogue as simply pointing fingers.

“Once it’s all said and done, I’m definitely going to ask for some type of investigation,” he said.





Will the province help Mattawa?

Mattawa mayor hoping province ‘will come good for people’ following flooding


‘Situation affecting a lot of homes on an hourly basis,’ Mayor Dean Backer says

Posted: May 12, 2019
Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Mayor Dean Backer
Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer says municipal officials are in constant contact with Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s office to update them about the situation in the town. (Jean-Loup Doudard/Radio-Canada)

Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer says he’s hoping provincial officials will step up to the plate and assist the flood-affected town.

Backer said while the situation has been “contained” in some parts of the town, “some of our infrastructure is literally crumbling” in other parts.


“The groundwater situation in the valley part of Mattawa, it’s affecting a lot of homes on an hourly basis,” Backer told CBC News on Sunday.

“The water’s seeping through their basement, cracking foundations, and in some places shifting homes. Due to the fact that they are on the lower ground part of Mattawa — even though it’s not visible to the eye — they’re feeling the effect and will continue to feel the effect for a while.”

One of those affected in this way is Cody Whaley.

He said since Friday he has been helping his mother dig a trench to keep the water out of her basement.

“Everyone around us is full of water. It’s coming from below us. We can’t do anything about it,” Whaley told CBC News.

Cody Whaley
Cody Whaley says since Friday he has been helping his mother dig a trench to keep the water out of her basement. (Jean-Loup Doudard/Radio-Canada)

Backer says municipal officials are in constant contact with Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s office to update them about the situation.

“He did a tour of Mattawa and we’re hoping that they’ll come good for these people,” Backer said.

“There’s a lot of damage, a lot of devastation, a lot of property damage. We will do our best as a municipality along with the provincial government to make sure that a lot of our constituents are compensated.”

“We are a small municipality and we are not rich,” Backer added.

Waters expected to keep rising

As snow continues to melt further north, the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority is predicting that the levels on the Ottawa River will continue to rise.

Water resources engineer Kurtis Romanchuk says forecasts show the Ottawa could go up by another 23 centimetres before peaking this spring.

He says the situation has been helped by the opening up of control dams in the Temiskaming district.

“There’s still lots of water melting up north and many of the reservoirs that are up stream north of Temiskaming in Quebec are approaching their maximum or at their maximum,” Romanchuk said. “So there continues to be a lot of water that’s moving down.”

Romanchuk is also keeping an eye on the rising waters in Lake Nipissing, which he forecasts will go up by another 12 centimetres before the spring melt is over.





Mattawa flooding


Mattawa Lions club and park. Just one of many buildings flooded.   An apartment building with several families has been evacuated and a dozen homes damaged by floodwaters. Mattawa lagoons are at maximum capacity and are in danger of spilling into the Mattawa river. For the past five days emergency crews and many volunteers have been working tirelessly filling and placing sandbags. The downtown core is shut down, stores are closed and completely vacant. The vehicle bridge crossing the Mattawa river has been closed and continues alternately closing and opening for the public. Yesterday the sand berm was almost breached and posed a serious danger for the public downtown, hence the businesses and residents in the area being evacuated. Schools are closed and the situation is only getting worse.