By Tracey Arial
A second reading of the new regulations to reset flood zones to match those in place in 1995, rather than the ones set in 2005, took place at Laval’s Jan. 13 council meeting.
The justification for the regulations stem from a study that Laval Mayor Marc Demers gave to Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel in December.
“It cost us around a million dollars to do that study,” said Demers, later that day. “The map was done by them. The expertise had to be a lot more precise than what the government had. We had to develop new tools to show the right formula.”
Citizens with properties affected by the zoning regulations and local MNA Gilles Ouimet got to see the study and learn about the revised regulations at a special meeting in December.
The city also set up seven computers so that people could see clearly which zones their properties lie within.
“As far as the definition of the flood zone, I hope that this will be resolved on the basis of Laval’s proposal,” said Ouimet, despite being left out of the process. “I’ve offered help and up until now, Mayor Demers and the City of Laval have acted on its own and they haven’t asked the MNA’s to be involved in the negotiation with the department. Laval has decided to manage this file on its own. I offered again Monday night to be involved if they want.”
Ouimet says that as far as he knows, Laval is the only jurisdiction in the province that refused to implement the Quebec government’s 2005 policy to protect flood plains, although there is also another issue in Quebec City. “We all agree that this policy was a significant step to protect the river and the shores.”
Laval adopted the new regulations at a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 18. The agenda says that the city will set a date for an official consultation for citizens, who will have the right to ask for a referendum on the issue. That date has not yet been set, but will probably be held this month.
“We have solved the problems for about 80 per cent of the people,” said Demers. “We will look at fixing more people with a second round of our regulations, even if they are in the zero to 20 year flood zone.”
Demers says that the new regulations still don’t allow expansions or new buildings, but he plans to handle those issues in the future.
“If you decide to have a bigger house, but it won’t affect the flood zone because it is further from the river, why not permit it because the impact is so small?”
Citizens who are interested in the issue should plan to attend the official consultation.
Once the regulation has been passed, Quebec’s Ministry of Environment will have two months to approve or deny it.
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