Winter housing for Rigaud flood victims on mayor’s agenda
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Re-elected Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. is moving forward on a long-term housing plan for flood victims in Rigaud.
As recently re-elected Mayor of Rigaud, Hans Gruenwald Jr. said in a recent interview, “winter is coming and we still have people living in hotels.” He was referring to the ongoing problems faced by individuals and families that were forced from their homes by the exceptional flooding in April 2017. Dealing with those problems is high on the mayor’s priority list.
“We are the government of proximity, so when residents are in trouble they come to the town,” said the mayor. “We are trying to get ahead of that.” He said the Salvation Army will put in place long-term lodging with funding provided by the provincial government with the town acting as the coordinator. “In order for the government to take care of that issue on a province-wide scale, they will have to deal with the towns, they need the implication of the municipalities,” said Gruenwald. “We proposed a mobile home trailer park solution, but they (the province) don’t want to dance with me that way,” he said, adding those plans could also be quickly activated if required.
“What I have done is delay the budget until the middle of January 2018,” said Gruenwald. “In Rigaud, we have a taxation system by sector and we need to review whether or not we are going to apply the flood costs by district or to the entire community.” He said the newly elected council would need time to consider all aspects of the situation.
“We need to have the proper information to make the proper decision. If the need arises, we can organize a forum where we can discuss this but it can be a divisive issue,” he noted. In terms of flooding costs paid by the town, only 70 per cent of that amount is covered by the provincial government. “We have to come up with the 30 per cent,” he said.
Unreported flood damage
“We know there are at least 75 residents who have not reported anything and we are beginning to question why,” said Gruenwald. “There are so many cases and none of them are the same.” According to the mayor, the provincial aid program for residents affected by the flood will continue for the foreseeable future.
Rigaud citizens committee
Comité des Citoyens de Rigaud (CCR) president Jeannine Landry has concerns regarding the implementation of the town’s housing plan. “We (CCR) met with a representative from the Salvation Army Thursday, November 2 who told us that mid and long-term housing would be available by about November 15,” she said. According to Landry, the representative did not know anything about the provincial government aid program and the assistance provided by the Red Cross that is currently in place. “I contacted the Red Cross and was told that if we accept the housing offer from the Salvation Army, we could lose the assistance from the Red Cross,” said Landry, noting the Red Cross has provided food, clothing and furniture to those that have lost everything. “It’s a Catch 22 situation.”