RMWB Considering Buyouts For All Flood Impacted Properties

Owners of flood-impacted properties could be given a chance to accept a buyout from the municipality.

Wood Buffalo council was given a flood mitigation update on Tuesday where they were introduced to several options on future plans for downtown, Waterways, Draper, Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, and Ptarmigan Court.

This includes continuing with current efforts, development control, no new developments below 250 metres, land swaps with the municipality, and full or partial buyouts.

Matthew Hough, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, says it’s important they discuss all options as there will always be a risk of flooding.

“Ideally our residents and businesses would be in a situation where there’s zero flood risk, at zero cost, and 100 per cent community buy-in… that combination is impossible to achieve.”

The April flood forced around 13,000 people to evacuate while damaging close to 1,200 properties.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests there’s been over $228 million in insured damage. The provincial government also provided an additional $100 million through their Disaster Relief Program for uninsured damage.

If a future flood happens, the RMWB can’t confirm whether they will receive funds to help cover the costs.

Hough notes he believes the current mitigation work can help limit the damage, however, there will always be the risk of a major flood.

“Building up Saline Creek parkway, which sits in front of Waterways, is still an entirely viable and defendable approach to community development, but we need to be upfront with our residents.”

So far, the RMWB has spent around $150 million on flood mitigation.

Work continues to happen despite these options being presented. The choice taken, for each area, will help decide how to spend the remaining $140 million they have for the project.

“We know that every community is different so we’re analyzing each individually – we’re taking cost, risk, and community support into consideration and solutions are not going to be one size.”

Meanwhile, the public will be given ample amounts of opportunities to share their opinion.

Over the next couple of weeks, information will be shared on the RMWB’s website, a survey will be launched and, depending on public interest, the municipality will hold Facebook Live and Townhall events.

Council is expected to receive more information on costs associated with each option on July 14 with a formal recommendation from administration not expected until the fall.

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