Flood victims express frustration and anger over delayed compensation
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Delayed compensation for flood victims was the major concern at the public consultation held in Rigaud. Resident Sandra Piening (right, in line with Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon) clearly voiced her frustration with the situation.
The public consultation held Monday, July 10 in Rigaud at Collège Bourget by representatives from the Quebec government was intended to present draft regulations concerning the creation of special planning zones within the existing flood plain zones. The proposed regulations are aimed at the 278 municipalities directly affected by the flooding this spring. Former interim Hudson Director General Duncan Campbell moderated the meeting and a panel of government representatives narrated the bilingual presentation and answered questions.
Existing Flood Plains
Currently, there are two existing flood plain zones: high-velocity flood plain referred to as the 0 to 20-year-zone and low-velocity flood plain known as the 100-year-zone.
The proposed regulations would prohibit reconstruction and new construction in high velocity zones with some possible exceptions. It may be possible to repair a building destroyed by flooding in the 0 to 20 year zone but for reconstruction it would have to be an exceptional case.
Although those in attendance were asked to keep their questions to the topic of the presentation, it was immediately apparent that was not to be the case.
“How many inspections do we need?” asked Rigaud resident Sandra Piening. She said she had filled out all of the required forms and had attempted follow-up on many occasions to no avail. For her and many others that came forward to the microphones, the pressing issue was receiving compensation money and permits in time to complete repair work before the arrival of cold weather.
“We want answers. We cannot continue like this. We have been very patient up until now. This is just not good enough,” said Peining as those present applauded.
Regional Director for Civil Security and Fire Safety for Montérégie and Estrie Jean-Sébastien Forest responded that there were 18 inspections in the region left to be done before distribution of compensation would begin.
Proposed appeal process in special planning zones
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said the appeal process in the proposed regulations did not have a timeline.
“Will it take three weeks, three months, or more?” asked Pilon. The appeal process pertains to exemptions for exceptional cases and must be launched through the local municipality. From there it proceeds to Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Occupation du territoire (MAMOT) who, in turn, send it on to the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, Faune et Parcs (MDDEFP) where a panel of independent experts in water management, urban planning, and environment assess the viability of the request. The response to the request is then returned to the property owner by the same governmental chain in reverse. The panel responded that a tool was being put in place and that each case would be handled as quickly as possible given the situation.
Timeline for proposed regulations
Following the Monday evening public consultation, cabinet members of the provincial government will review the regulations and a decision will follow based on their recommendations.
Janine Landry, a member of a committee representing flood victims in Rigaud, and Pointe–Fortune resident Ken Flack raised the issue of the effect and security of the dam at the Hydro-Québec Carillon Generating Station. It was made clear by the panel that the proposed regulations have nothing to do with the Hydro-Québec dams. The regulations pertain only to special planning zoning for land use in floodplain-identified land.
As the consultation came to a close, members of the panel promised to relay all of the concerns and ideas raised during the question to the cabinet members of the government. On Tuesday, July 11, Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux announced more people have been hired to speed up the process of inspections and offices will be set up in Rigaud, areas of Montreal, and in Gatineau to respond to citizens’ questions about flood compensation.