Mayor Scott: Buyouts May Be Best Option For Flood-Impacted Properties

The big question being asked across the RMWB is what should flood mitigation look like moving forward.

The municipality is currently considering several options including status quo, restrictions on future development, land swaps, and buyouts.

For Mayor Don Scott, the best answer may be relocating residents out of these areas.

“We spent a $150 million building berms but we still had the issue we had this year, a 1 in 100 year flood, so we’re gonna be looking at all options but buyouts are definitely going to be on the table.”

April’s flood forced 13,000 people to evacuate in downtown, Waterways, Draper, Ptarmigan Court, and Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park. Hundreds of residents and pets had to be rescued after failing to listen to evacuation orders or were caught by rising water levels.

This was nothing new for some who also had to evacuate during the 2013 and 1997 floods.

What the municipality wants residents to know – there’s a chance this could happen again.

“We’ll build berms or take whatever steps people believe is correct where we are able and can afford it,” said Scott.

“On the other hand, if people just want to relocate, if it makes more sense for them to do that, then that could be an option for them. If businesses want to relocate, we have land in other parts of this region.”

Insured damage ended up hovering around $228 million, while an additional $100 million was provided by the provincial government, through the disaster relief program, for uninsured damage.

Scott believes the province and federal government may not want to continue throwing money at flood-prone areas.

“I have a sense that other levels of governments are just not going to keep on doing this, so this is really about protecting people’s futures and protecting the health and safety of those in this region.”

No matter the decision, the municipality plans on continuing flood mitigation work in these areas. Whatever way the community chooses will help them decide the best course of action.

In the meantime, residents are being encouraged to share their opinion directly to the RMWB.

“It still has to be a community conversation, we still need to see what the community believes is the right direction. We are not going to act without getting good feedback,” added Scott.

You can get more information by visiting the municipality’s website. They are also planning on providing a survey to allow residents an easy way to provide feedback.

The results are expected to be shared to Wood Buffalo council on July 14, the last meeting before the summer break. A final decision will most likely be made in the fall.

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