• John Jantak

Chaline Valley residents not reassured by appraiser’s assertions about property values


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Chaline Valley resident Benoît Tremblay (right) challenged real estate appraiser Jean-François Fredette’s assertion that property values in the landslide zone had not diminished at the May 14 public information session.

Chaline Valley homeowners in St. Lazare remain concerned they will be unable to sell their houses and that the market value of their homes will decline despite assurances made at a public information meeting May 14, that despite being located within or near the designated landslide zone, it will not adversely impact home prices or their resale potential.

Jean-François Fredette, from the professional appraisal firm Leroux, Beaudry, Picard and Associates Inc., which specializes in commercial, industrial and institutional properties, tried to reassure homeowners that because there is reportedly no risk of an imminent landslide, this assertion alone would not negatively affect property values in the future, nor would it deter buyers from purchasing homes in the area.

Fredette’s optimistic assessment failed to sway Huguette Leblanc who is one of many residents concerned that she will be unable to sell her house despite a provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) assessment that there is no imminent risk of a landslide occurring in Chaline Valley anytime in the near future.

“They weren’t able to tell us if we’d be able to get buyers,” Leblanc told Your Local Journal after the meeting. “We’re not going to get buyers. If you have a choice of living in St. Lazare, would you go to Chaline Valley? There’s no way. They’re daydreaming by telling us all kinds of nice things, but we always go back to square number one where our houses are not going to be sellable.”

Leblanc was also dissatisfied with a response that home sellers could provide a letter attesting that there is no immediate risk of a landslide. “Who’s going to provide us with a letter telling us there’s no danger?” asked Leblanc. “The town or the province is not going to do that. We’ll never see the end of it. It’s a way out for them and that’s how I feel.”

Resident Benoît Tremblay also disputed Fredette’s assertions, stating that even though there may not be an imminent landslide risk, just the fact that houses are within or adjacent to the landslide zone will have a negative psychological impact and dissuade potential homebuyers.

Last Saturday, Your Local Journal met with a Chaline Valley resident who had purchased a home about one year ago, unaware of the landslide risk zone. The homeowner, who declined to reveal his name because he is considering taking legal action, said he would have never purchased his home if the risk was disclosed during the sales process.

Resident Richard Meades, who was one of the first home buyers to purchase a house in 1987 when Chaline Valley was opened up for residential development, is also worried about whether he’ll be able to sell his property.

Meades has strongly criticized the way the town has handled the situation at recent council meetings and has urged the town become more proactive by taking action to stabilize the landslide area instead of just talking about solutions and proposing more studies.

During the public information meeting, MTQ Engineer Janelle Potvin presented a detailed slide presentation that confirmed the sloping hillside that runs alongside the Quinchien River is classified as a zone prone to large, retrogressive landslides because of its clay composition, but constantly reiterated throughout the question period after the meeting that there is no risk of a landslide in the near future.

Despite Potivn’s assertion, residents were asked to monitor the land around their properties and immediately notify town officials if they notice any kind of land movement. They were also told not to exacerbate the situation by cutting down trees or excavating at the base of a slope, by building an embankment or backfill at the top of a slope, and to prevent water accumulation on their properties by providing adequate drainage.

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