Flood zone reform tops city wish list

By Robert Frank

The entire provincial Laval caucus visited city hall, Aug. 29, to meet Mayor Marc Demers and selected city councilors as well as the city’s top civil servant.

Family Minister Francine Charbonneau led the all-Liberal six-MNA delegation, which gave the gave the mayor and his entourage the opportunity to plump for the provincial projects highest on the city’s priority list.

“On this occasion, the files that were discussed were flood zones, Place Bell and Highway 19,” Mayor Demers’ spokesman François Brochu said in a statement.

House prices instantly dropped as much as 30 per cent late last year, after the province strongarmed Laval into imposing new flood-zone restrictions on homeowners.

Shoreline residents around Laval bridled after the city revealed new, provincially imposed flood zone rules, Dec. 5, that stuck them with homes that they can’t renovate, were difficult to insure and even harder to sell.

While the city pleaded with the Quebec government on their behalf, the flood zone debacle became a lightning-rod issue that swayed Laval voters during the ensuing provincial election campaign, which saw Liberal candidates sweep all six Laval ridings.

In March, two weeks before Gilles Ouimet was elected to represent Fabre riding, he told The Suburban that Laval residents shouldn’t have to cool their heels while the then-Parti québécois government dithered.

However, Laval residents are still waiting to find out what the new rules will be and how they will be affected.

Two months ago, Brochu issued a swift denial, after Comité des citoyens de Laval ouest reported on its web site that the city would announce the new flood zone rules at its July 14 council meeting.

He said at the time that he expected that he expected “a very positive response” soon to a $75,000 study that the city commissioned to reevaluate water levels. 

Brochu did not specify what help Laval wants from Quebec City to finish its long-awaited Place Bell complex. Mayor Demers disclosed in March that the price to complete the sports-and-theatre facility had nearly doubled to $200 million.

Abord à Plouffe Councilor Vasilios Karidogiannis told The Suburban at the time that the provincial government ought to step up and make a similar contribution to the Place Bell project as it had for sports complexes in Quebec City and Trois Rivières.

Extending Highway 19 by 8 km from Highway 440 to Highway 640 might also prove problematic, as the government struggles to come up with the cash to rebuild crumbling overpasses throughout the province.

The project has been on the books since the 1960s to relieve congestion from the North Shore population boom. However, during a May 24 briefing, Transport Quebec cautioned Laval residents not to expect the extension anytime soon.

Even if the government gives it the green light to proceed in 2016, the $600 million extension might not open until 2025, since Transport Quebec anticipates that construction will take well over eight years to complete.

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