Government adjusts flood zone maps

The Legault government adjusts its flood maps and removes some 30 municipalities from the construction freeze decreed in mid-June. Minister of Municipal Affairs Andrée Laforest says she listened to the public, but several dissatisfactions persist.
In all, 5,600 people attended public meetings held in the different regions of Quebec on July 4th and the department received 3,000 emails. Several citizens argued that the Special Action Zone (ZIS) enacted by the government was too broad and affected homes that have not experienced recent flooding. Citizens whose residence is located in this area suffer a moratorium that prevents them from renovating or rebuilding their homes for the time being.

This ZIS, the largest in Quebec’s history, is made up of areas that have been flooded by the spring floods of 2017 and 2019 and flood zones of 0-20 years. By mid-June, the government had released a map that included 813 municipalities. Today, the narrowed area covers 783 municipalities and excludes thousands of homes at lower risk.

More cautious than not enough

Minister Laforest denies having acted in haste. “We had to act to avoid a license race because we already had huge demands,” she says in an interview. According to her, government officials wanted to be more cautious than not enough in developing the first map. “We knew there would be adjustments to make, but I think we acted responsibly,” she said.

If inaccuracies were to remain in the new map, municipalities have until August 19 to make their demands with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. “We ‘ll be able to make some minor changes in September,” says Laforest.

The city of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac will retain its special treatment. Its citizens will have the right to rebuild their homes, as the major flood this spring has been caused by the breakage of the dike.

M me Laforest said he understood that some people are disappointed. “It’s not easy to be placed in a flood zone. But at some point, we need to act responsibly and completely revise land use planning, so that we do not have to compensate each year. ”

The minister recalls that the floods in 2017 cost taxpayers $ 280 million and that so far, the 2019 floods have cost $ 41 million in compensation, a figure that is far from final.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs specifies that the implementation of this ZIS is a transitional measure of “precaution and prevention”, the time to review the management of flood zones in Quebec. The government of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) has committed to deliver an action plan by December 2019.

“Nothing settled”

Liberal MP Marie-Claude Nichols denounces the government’s “improvisation” on this issue. “This map has had the effect of a bomb for our municipalities. And I can tell you that the new map, it’s not the case yet. There is nothing settled. ”

M me Nichols regrets that the Government has not worked with the cities, preferring to impose its vision. “There are still several problematic cases, particularly in Montérégie. My phone stops ringing, “she says.

If Ms. Nichols is in favor of reviewing the management of the flood zones in Quebec, she is against the government’s way of doing things. “With geomatics, there are cities that are better equipped than the government right now. You have to trust them. ”

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