Flood issues dominate Rigaud council meeting question period
PHOTO BY JULES-PIERRE MALARTRE
Rigaud resident Janine Landry speaking on behalf of the recent spring flood victims committee at this week’s town council meeting.
The Rigaud Council held its monthly meeting two hours earlier July 5 in the main auditorium of Collège Bourget in order to avoid a schedule overlap with the 7 p.m. public consultation for the victims of this spring’s widespread flooding.
The unusually high number of residents present for the meeting listened quietly while the council went rapidly through the usual agenda of motions and other city business. While the initial question period scheduled at the onset of the meeting went almost unused, a large number of residents took the microphone during the second question period to air their grievances over the governmental flood compensation plan. The question period went on for over an hour and had to be cut short to allow the council members to prepare and get to the public consultation.
Resident Janine Landry took to the microphone on behalf of the resident committee for the flood victims in Rigaud.
“(Flood victims) have been confronted by city administrators,” she said. “We’ve received all sorts of incoherent answers. We have asked questions to the department of urbanism and to other services, but once we talked to the mayor, we received other answers. People would like some coherence.”
Landry went on to express her frustration over the regulations that prevent flood victims from immediately proceeding with some basic repairs while they wait for the flood compensation program to move forward.
“Is there a way to relax the law (...) so that people can do some basic work, like some painting, which is urgent?” Landry asked. She stressed that this request was not for the houses that were deemed dangerous, but for the ones that home owners could move back into immediately. Landry added that this would be a better alternative to having residents live in hotels. “We are all stressed out,” Landry said. Another member of the committee mentioned that some flood victims had even displayed suicidal tendencies under the stress of the current situation.
“We have found, in three residences, mushrooms that are toxic,” Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. answered. “The city cannot authorize you to work in your homes until that has been cleared. We are waiting for directions from the Ministère de la sécurité publique. The city cannot let your move back into homes that are dangerous. Some are so toxic that they can lead to deaths.”
Landry added that her request was for homes that were not affected by toxic mushrooms. Gruenwald answered that this had to be confirmed officially, not with the naked eye. “The inspections are not over,” Gruenwald stressed. “We have made a request for more inspectors to accelerate the process.”
Gruenwald added that any renovations made by residents at this point could be wasted until the authorization to proceed has been received from the Ministère de la sécurité publique.
“So, there is nothing we can do until the 18-month period runs its course?” Landry concluded. Gruenwald answered that the city knew only as much as the residents at this point and that Landry’s group might be able to obtain more answers at the public consultation held later on that evening. “I know that you are impatient. I know that things should have happened yesterday,” Gruenwald said.
Landry added her committee had uncovered information coming from the Ontario River Regulation Board regarding a mathematical formula used to calculate the possible flooding damages caused by the production of electrical energy and management of the hydroelectric dams along the river.
“They aim for optimal electricity production (...) and calculate the potential flooding damages for Montreal, Gatineau and Maniwaki, but Rigaud and Pointe-Fortune are excluded from the calculation.” Landry and her group question why the two towns are excluded from the calculations. “This does not take into consideration the populations of Rigaud and Pointe-Fortune that are actually located closest to a dam.”
Mayor Gruenwald suggested that Landry address that question to the Ministère de la sécurité publique. “You bring up a point that I will look into,” Gruenwald added.