Property owners in flood-prone areas won’t have to accept a buyout, but they may be expropriated if they don’t.
That’s according to Matthew Hough, the RMWB Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, who answered questions and addressed concerns from the public on Thursday through a Facebook Live Q&A.
No decision has been made at this time, however, the municipality is recommending buyouts for Draper, Ptarmigan Court, and the section of Waterways below 250 metres.
Hough says there are multiple avenues they can take before stopping at expropriation.
“If direct negotiations, one on one with property owners, are required – we need to do that and at the end of the day what the flood-prone areas will look like will be the subject of much discussion and debate.”
The municipality is looking to get as close to 100 per cent support from each neighbourhood.
If Wood Buffalo council decides buyouts are the best course of action, the municipality would approach each owner to see if this is something they would like to do.
“If buyouts are pursued, we tend to negotiate with property owners in good faith,” added Hough.
The RMWB is currently leaning towards providing current market value for properties which is leaving some with concerns.
During a townhall event on Monday, one resident claimed this would be just as harmful as having them stay in the areas.
Property taxes aren’t expected to rise to cover the costs of these potential buyouts.
The expected cost in Draper, Ptarmigan Court, and Waterways is just under $100 million.
Hough notes they can’t confirm there won’t be any changes in the future.
“I would be wrong to say that this won’t be an ongoing consideration as we start to prepare the 2021 budget.”
The RMWB continues to try and get down to the 5:1 rural to urban tax ratio outlined in the Municipal Government Act. It’s currently sitting just under 8:1.
Back in May, the municipality also lowered property taxes across the region.
Meanwhile, council is set to discuss flood mitigation in the five flood-prone areas at a special meeting on July 28.
Residents will still be able to voice their opinions by signing up to be a delegate or submitting a written response.
Individuals can email [email protected] to speak at the virtual meeting with all requests needing to be sent in by 12 p.m. on July 27.