• James Armstrong

Financial aid available to repair land damaged by spring flooding


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Jean-Philippe Martin (centre) fielded questions from citizens while presenting details of best practices for restoring damaged riverside landscape after flooding.

More than 200 residents affected by the spring floods in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region attended information meetings held August 15 and 16 at the Public Library in Rigaud.

Representatives from the Town of Rigaud, the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS), the Québec Ministry of Public Security, the Conseil du Bassin versant de la region de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (COBAVER) as well as two representatives from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) were in attendance.

“There has never been an aid program instituted by a government like this before,” said Deputy Director of Fire Security Service Eric Martel in his opening remarks.

According to Martel, the program was put in place after the second flood in Rigaud as the needs of those affected by the flooding became apparent. Up to $5000 per property is available to help with the stabilization of riverbanks, repair to landscaping and driveways.

Time to apply

For those who have already opened claims for flood damage to their homes, the process of applying for this particular form of assistance becomes part of the original file. It isn’t necessary to open another file, according to Pierre Marmen from the Ministry of Public Security. Property owners who have not made a claim need to do so immediately because the deadline was August 15. When asked if there was some flexibility to the deadline, Marmen said there was some elasticity but did not specify how much. Martel noted that efforts had been made to inform all claimants about the financial assistance.

Reducing risk and preventing erosion

The bulk of the information was provided by Ursule Boyer-Villemaire and Jean-Philippe Martin, lecturers from the Institut des sciences de l’environnement at UQÀM in a detailed audio-visual presentation that provided background information on the local and regional flood zones, where the water came from, and the statistical effect on the communities touched by the floods.

Causes of flooding

Martin described how the water level in Lake Ontario was very high due to snowmelt and heavy rain. Since the lake has direct access to the Saint Lawrence River, the resulting rise reduced access for the water coming from the Ottawa River.

Several residents raised questions regarding the effect of the hydroelectric power dam at Carillon, upstream from Rigaud. Martin said the dam wasn’t constructed for controlling floods and that correct levels of water had to be maintained upstream from the dam.

Flood and erosion

The presentation identified flooding and erosion as the two main hazards causing damage. It compared best practices with worst practices scenarios as a background to the philosophy behind government regulation and new management practices for waterway management.

For example, the construction of rigid vertical concrete walls is not considered the best way to protect the shoreline because they create a multiple risk situation. The walls do not protect against high water levels or wind and wave action. They also contribute to the erosion of any beach that may exist at the foot of the structure.

Washed-out riverbanks

Questions regarding the type of repairs that are permitted were answered in the presentation given by Élise Phoenix, a Watercourse Intervention Officer from MRC- VS.

“Are we allowed to replace the sand beaches at the Hudson Club?” asked a resident. The answer was no, once the sand was gone, it could not be replaced with loads of sand brought in from elsewhere. The goal, according to the presentation, in restoring washed out riverbanks is to reduce the slope as much as possible and stabilize the soil with vegetation to prevent further erosion.

Vegetation and riverbanks

In a similar vein, Julie Cyr, Director General of COBAVER provided the details on varieties and types of vegetation to be used in the stabilization of eroded riverbanks. The goal is to create and maintain biodiversity and the natural character of the area.

Available in French only, the presentations are posted on the Town of Rigaud website: www.ville.rigaud.qc.ca/suivi-des-rencontres-citoyennes-amenagement-paysager.

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