Bracebridge lifted its state of emergency Monday morning as the town continues its recovery from historic flooding that started at the end of April.
“The water is approaching the normal level on Lake Muskoka,” Bracebridge mayor Graydon Smith told Global News Monday. “We think in the next few days, it will get out of the high water zone, and then within the next five it’ll go into the normal operating zones.”
Bracebridge’s emergency control group met Monday morning to discuss the town’s emergency parameters. “It became clear it wasn’t a matter of public safety at this point,” Smith added. “Everyone around the table felt comfortable pulling that declaration.”
The navigation restrictions implemented by Transport Canada for Lake Muskoka, the Moon River, and the north and south branches of the Muskoka River remain in place.
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People who can only access their properties by boat are exempt from the restrictions.
“We think most people would have had access to their properties again,” Smith said. “Almost all the roads that were closed are re-opened, so for the people where it was a question of access, as opposed to a question of flooding, they should be able to get back in.”
According to Smith, the Town of Bracebridge has been speaking with the province and with Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address the region’s problems with floods.
The Ford government has announced that it will be creating an internal task force to combat flooding in the province.
“I want to assure the people of Ontario that we are taking action to better plan for and reduce the impacts of flooding,” Ford said in a statement. “We will start by creating an internal task force that will hear directly from people in flood zones about how we can all work together to protect their property and keep them safe.”
The task force will consult with municipal, Indigenous and industry leaders.
WATCH: Ontario government promises task force to help flooded cottage country
The first engagement session will happen in the Muskoka region on Friday.
“It’s not something we’re going to solve in a day,” Smith said. “There’s some issues on the table that require further discussion and a closer look.”
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is advising residents that sandbags from flooded areas may have been in contact with unsafe water and to treat sandbags as municipal waste.
Residents affected by flooding can go to 456 Manitoba St. in Bracebridge to pick up clean-up kits, water testings kits, and drinking water. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will be picking up water samples from that location Tuesday and May 21 for residents whose drinking water has been affected by the floods.
Muskoka Lakes — one of six Muskoka municipalities — is still under a flooding state of emergency.
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