Central Alberta municipalities say a provincial edict to alter development in flood plains is vague in scope and implications.
Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said in a Sunday press release that a portion of the provincial disaster recovery program fund would be used for homeowners to rebuild or relocate to new locations, outside of the flood risk area.
Homes requiring major repairs or complete reconstruction will be given extra funding to implement approved flood mitigation measures.
“Frankly, we’re not at all sure what it does mean,” said Red Deer city manager Craig Curtis. “The level of consultation has not happened. We’ve seen these announcements in the same way the public does — it seems the communication is somewhat lacking.”
New provincial legislation regarding development in flood plains is expected this fall. Consultations are expected to take place over the next few weeks.
“We have to study the information more because we have not been directly communicated with,” said Curtis.
While there hasn’t been the necessary consultation yet, Curtis likes the government’s idea to align flood mitigation and disaster recovery with other Canadian provinces like Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec.
Kevin Waschuk lives in one of the six Red Deer houses that was served an evacuation notice as a result of the June flood. His house, located near McKenzie Trails, wasn’t damaged and he never left.
He said he hopes some of the provincial money could be used to build berms and divert a potential disaster.
“We got through this one unscathed and the flood we had eight years ago got a little closer,” said Waschuk. “Obviously we’re going to choose to stay where we are at.
“If they (provincial government) would offer up some money to the City of Red Deer to come in and build some solid berms close to where we live. Nobody can predict these berms would hold, but at least we’re attempting to thwart the situation.”
In 2005, flood waters came within two metres of Waschuk’s back door. But he got through it unscathed. With the 2013 flood waters at a lower level than in 2005, he has dodged a couple of wet bullets.
Curtis said these homes are in an area of concern when it comes to floods and have been for many years.
“His (Griffiths) comments seem to have been around the one-in-100-year flood plain, which is one we’ve adhered to pretty strictly,” said Curtis. “We’ve had a program of acquiring lands along the river within the one-in-100, which was one of the motivations for Waskasoo Park when we purchased all that land in the 1980s.”
The Riverlands development, the proposed Native Friendship Centre site and the new civic yard are not within the province’s projected 100-year-flood plain.
“It would be best to identify the specific municipalities rather than being somewhat generic,” said Curtis.
Under the provincial proposal, future developments in floodways will be severely limited, for the most part outright banned, and future disaster recovery assistance will be limited to residents who undertake approved flood mitigation measures.
According to a City of Red Deer press release, the city’s next steps are to compare in detail in the provincial maps with the city’s flood hazard area, review the details of the new proposed provincial policy and discuss implications with the province.