New flood zone map gets mixed reaction from Vaudreuil-Soulanges
PHOTO COURTESY CENTRE D'EXPERTISE HYDRIQUE DU QUÉBEC
The revised borders of Quebec’s zero to 20-year floodplain map are reduced in scope from the first iteration but some area mayors are still critical of the provincial government’s lack of communication with municipal officials prior to its release.
The Quebec government issued an updated version of the Special Intervention Zone (ZIS) map Monday, July 15. The updated version addresses many of the errors in the first map brought to the attention of the Quebec government during the public consultations held across the province on July 4.
There are, however, properties not touched by flooding that remain in the ZIS.
“I think it will be fairly simple for municipalities to remove certain properties from the ZIS that were not flooded,” said Soulanges MNA Marilyne Picard. Property owners in that situation need to contact their local municipality and fill out a form to begin the process. The deadline for applying for removal from the ZIS is Monday, August 19.
Improving flood zone maps
Picard said the goal of the ZIS is to improve the mapping of flood zones across the province.
“To date, we haven’t had a precise mapping of areas flooded in 2017 and 2019,” she said. “I’m really pleased the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) has excellent mapping tools. Not all MRCs are the same,” she added. Municipalities have the option to apply the flood zone regulations more stringently than the Quebec government, according to Picard.
Insurance and mortgage renewal
During the public consultation held at the Château Vaudreuil in Vaudreuil-Dorion, residents in the ZIS renewing their mortgages and insurance policies raised concerns. Picard said this should no longer be a problem as the government had been in contact with the banking and insurance industry.
The ZIS has a temporary life span although a final date for its demise has not been published. According to Picard, it’s the preliminary step to improving the flood zone maps and should come to an end once the municipalities and the MRCs have completed their cartography work.
“We are very happy with the direction of the new map. It’s very positive,” Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon told The Journal on Monday, July 15. He added there were a few areas in the city that have never been flooded and needed to be removed from the ZIS. He said he was confidant Vaudreuil-Dorion would return to the zoning and elevations they had in 2017 and 2019.
Despite his happiness with the changes, Pilon said he was still angry about the Quebec government’s handling of the entire exercise.
“They should have spoken to the MRC-VS and us before they published the ZIS,” he said. “It put a lot of emotional and financial pressure on a lot of people. Now the government looks really good because they are relieving that pressure. It should never have happened in the first place.”
He said he was looking forward to seeing how the banks and insurance companies would react to the new map.
“It was really an amateur job on the part of the government but at least they recognized their mistake and are now working in the right direction,” he said noting the city has the resources required to analyze the map and indicate the necessary changes.
According to information released by the city Wednesday, July 17, there are 139 homes affected by the new map. Of that number, 72 housing units should not be included in the ZIS so Vaudreuil-Dorion plans to intervene with the provincial government.
Rigaud reaction to ZIS map
Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. said there were minor adjustments that needed to be made to the reissued ZIS map. Areas of Rigaud were hard hit by the flooding events of 2017 and 2019 leaving the mayor with two major questions. “When is the next flood coming and how high will it be?” he asked, adding that he wasn’t in a position to judge the limits of the ZIS map.
“If we get two feet more of flooding than the last time, that could change everything,” Gruenwald said. “People are going to have to face the fact there are no guarantees living in a flood zone.” The town has absorbed their share of the cost of the 2017 floods and is now faced with similar, or higher, costs in 2019.
“In 2017, it was $400,000 and the final numbers aren’t in yet for 2019,” said the mayor. He described the town’s present financial situation as a cash crunch.
“I don’t want to go for extra taxation because that will divide the population of the town,” he said. Instead, town council is considering every aspect of the upcoming 2020 budget and looking for places to reduce expenses.
Hudson and flood zone map changes
The ZIS map issued on June 17 affected properties north of Main Road including approximately one third of the development project for Sandy Beach in Hudson as reported in the June 20 edition of The Journal. The newly released map still shows most of the shoreline of Sandy Beach affected by potential flooding. When contacted for the town’s reaction to the updated ZIS map, Mayor Jamie Nicholl’s office declined to comment.
The new floodplain map can be consulted here.