Stricter flood zone boundaries worry waterfront homeowners

By Geneviève April
with files from Robert Frank

Around 700 Laval homeowners are directly affected by Quebec’s new regulations. Concerned citizens were invited by city hall to attend an information meeting on the subject, Dec. 5, where officials explained in detail where the new flood lines are, how they will be affected by the new regulation and what was being done about it.

For years, the previous municipal administration fended off the Quebec government’s 2005 flood zone decree, but this year the Parti Québécois government put its foot down and forced the city to use the new maps to assess property evaluations.

“We had to explain that the city had nothing to do with the decision. The government decided to impose a decree on Laval, and the Cities and Towns Act gives us no leeway but to comply,” explained spokesperson François Brochu.

The change in the flood lines leaves many Laval homeowners stuck with houses that they can’t renovate and are more difficult to insure, making them much more difficult to sell.

“Many homeowners fear that their homes will lose value. They should instead look at the big picture,” Brochu suggested. “Any house adjacent to the shore runs the risk of being flooded, but it won’t lose value because those locations remain attractive.”

All citizens were invited to consult one-on-one with city experts to learn exactly how they would be affected. The city deemed a case-by-case approach a more helpful way to convey the individual impact. 

“People can get information about specific addresses by visiting the city office [at 1313 Chomedey Blvd.],” added Brochu. “Each case is different.”

Laval is also engaged in ongoing negotiations to urge the Quebec government to amend its decision. A study, commissioned by Laval and expected to be complete within the next six months, should reveal that the new flood lines decreed by the government do not accurately represent the true flood risk around Laval.

“We’re confident that the [provincial] government will consider this more complete and up-to-date study, and reverse their decision. We’ve witnessed a great deal of collaboration from the government, and they seem willing to listen to our arguments,” concluded Brochu. “We just ask citizens to remain patient a little while longer, while we await for the study to be completed, rather than jumping to conclusions.”

In the meantime MNA Jean Rousselle told The Suburban that the only major flood he has witnessed in Laval in more than three decades is the torrent of worried constituents pouring through the doors of his Vimont riding office.

Rousselle took the Parti Québécois government to task for reckless haste and ignoring Laval residents’ legitimate concerns.

“They’ve invested in their home to have a worry-free retirement, or to raise their families,” he observed. “The Environment Minister and the Minister for Laval ought to have come up with a solution for them before they adopted this measure. They could have worked with the people who are affected, beforehand.”

“If I had a home on the Mille Îles shore, I’d be worried,” Rousselle added. “Some have lived there for 15 years or more. Suddenly they’re in a flood zone. They paid a premium to live on the waterfront and now they’re told it’s a swamp. They’re witnessing the value of their home plummet.”

“The government has proceeded way too hurriedly,” he concluded. “Watercourses can change over the years. Quebec ought to have hired experts: professionals who are independent of the government, to do a thorough analysis first.”

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