• James Armstrong

Deluge of questions from flood victims inundates Rigaud council meeting


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

The questions and concerns of Rigaud flood victims presented by William Bradley (left) and Jeannine Landry (right) dominated the recent Rigaud town council meeting.

Members of the Comité des citoyens de Rigaud (CCR) confronted Rigaud town council at the August 14 monthly meeting with their questions and their frustration over the ongoing problems associated with the provincial government recovery program. The CCR was joined recently by a citizens’ action group representing the victims of the record flooding of the Ottawa River that occurred earlier this year according to spokesperson Jeannine Landry.

Permits and reports

Landry voiced concern about the length of time it has taken for the town to issue permits for renovation or demolition and how the financial aid program is applied. Director General Chantal Lemieux replied many criteria apply and each case is different. She cited, as an example, that a flood-damaged residence inside the 0 to 20-year flood zone would be evaluated differently than one outside the zone. However, before permits can be issued, the town must have an evaluation report issued by an inspector from the Québec Ministry of Public Security or an expert in the field of evaluating flood damage.

“We haven’t received a lot of reports,” said Lemieux adding that the situation changes on a daily basis.

Federal funds for flood victims

CCR President William Bradley joined Landry at the microphone. “There was about $2.5 million provided by the federal government for flood victims. Can we find out how we can get that money to the village?” said Bradley, adding, “I understand that you have to ask the province and they ask the federal government.” Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. replied the town would look into it.

Additional personnel

“This is not our first rodeo. We have flooding every spring,” Bradley continued. He said there are many possible solutions to the problem including raising homes above the flood line. “We have made many recommendations to the Ministries of the Environment and Public Security. We can only make recommendations and they make the decisions,” responded Gruenwald.

Bradley suggested the town hire part or full-time people to speed up the process of assisting flood victims.

“You have no idea how much time and energy has been spent to find qualified personnel. If they are not qualified, then the reports have no value,” said Gruenwald adding, “We have two new inspectors starting next week.”

The mayor also said the town had requested help from the province but they are short on personnel as well and the town must follow its own regulations regarding employment.

Following the rules

“I understand very well that everyone is stressed,” said the mayor. “We are doing everything we can at every level. I sympathize for you but my hands are tied.” He emphasized the necessity of following the rules and guidelines in order to receive financial assistance.

“If someone begins repairs or renovations without permits there will not be any financial assistance. That’s the reality,” said Gruenwald.

“You are all managers here and managers manage. They don’t just glide in on their coattails during the happy times. They deal with problems,” said Bradley.

“We have just started to see a light at the end of the tunnel regarding personnel,” said Gruenwald adding each new hire takes time to process and train. “They are not familiar with all of the processes required for dealing with the flood victim situation,” he noted. “If we could handle the problem tomorrow morning, we would because we have to pay attention to the rest of the town, as well,” said the mayor, inviting Bradley to give someone else a chance to ask a question.

“If there were permits, that would be something,” said Landry, returning to the microphone.

“We cannot issue permits at large without following the regulations,” responded Gruenwald. “As I said earlier, we are not using the entire meeting for those affected by the flood. We have to deal with the rest of the business of the town.”

Assistance for flood victims

Gruenwald emphasized the entire town administration was doing everything it could to make sure applications for assistance were being processed correctly for financial assistance to be available. The town has set up a Flood Recovery Office next to the Town Hall at 33 rue Saint-Jean Baptiste Ouest. More information is available at www.ville.rigaud.qc.ca by following the links ‘Sécurité Civile et Mesures D’Urgence’, and ‘Inodations’.

Other business

Council approved a notice of motion for By-law 348-2017 relating to the financial assistance program for persons affected by the 2017 spring flood.

Maison Robert Lionel Séguin

Council also permitted a minor derogation allowing the Maison Robert Lionel Séguin to be moved to the courtyard in front of the Public Library at 102 rue Saint-Pierre. The approval was given despite the recommendation from the urban planning committee that the minor derogation should be refused.

The small house that was once the home of Québec writer and historian, Robert Lionel Séguin, was given to the Town of Rigaud by Madame Séguin Servant with the stipulation that the building be moved from its current location. To that end, $50,000 was budgeted for 2017 for the project. Born in Rigaud in 1920, Robert Lionel Séguin devoted his life to the study of Québec history, in particular les habitants of the 17th and 18th centuries. Séguin died in 1982 leaving an immense collection of artifacts currently preserved at the Musée Québécois de Culture Populaire in Trois Rivières, Québec.

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