There was a recurring theme at last Thursday night’s over capacity public consultation on the government’s proposed special planning zone (SPZ) decree concerning new flood zones. During the Question and Answer portion of the public forum, many residents from all over the West Island took to the microphone to note that their homes, currently in flood zones as per the new flood mapping, had never been hit by either the 2017 or May flooding or any other for that matter.
One Sainte Anne-deBellevue resident quipped that in order for his home to qualify as being in the proposed flood zone, “the Arctic would have to melt.”This was followed by some laughter and a round of applause but it was Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis’ turn at the microphone that brought the house down.
Beis noted that while the new maps are being drawn, municipalities now have three different maps to refer to which is causing “too much confusion.” He also blasted the current government as he has seen “no initiative by the government that will help the citizens and municipalities build the proper infrastructure to prevent this from happening again.
“You used the 2019 flooding as the basis of your maps where we had 50 to 60 homes flooded compared to 850 homes in 2017,” Beis told the bureaucrats at the dias who looked like they wanted to be anywhere other than in the overheated and crowded space. The event was so well attended that police were called in to manage the overflow as many potential attendees had to listen in the hallway.
Beis spoke about his borough’s hard work to protect homes from flooding and instead of creating arbitrary maps, “ we can work to protect our own homes but there needs to be political will.”The Pierrefonds-Roxboro mayor also chided the panelists for presenting the entire session in French only and when one of the bureaucrats noted that it was because of Bill 101, the crowd erupted in raucous jeers that brought the proceedings to a standstill for a few moments.
Some positive news for concerned residents came when the city of Dorval released a press statement the day after the heated meeting noting that “in response to pressure exerted by the City of Dorval and other municipalities in relation to the inaccuracies of the maps representing the flooded territories, the Quebec government has decided to review these maps of affected flood zones in 2017 and 2019.”
Dorval was one of the first cities to denounce the new SPZ and was quickly followed by Vaudreuil-Dorion, Sainte Anne-de-Bellevue, Beaconsfield and others. “This correction is currently being undertaken so that the map more accurately reflects the reality of Dorval and other territories. The corrected version will be made public when the Quebec government releases the decree concerning the special planning zone (SPZ),” noted the Dorval release.
The city of Dorval praised its residents and other West Islanders for attending the public forum because “your comments are in part responsible for this positive about-face.”
Prior to the beginning of the assembly, attendees were given a short memo noting that properties not located in a zero to 20 year floodplain and that were not affected by floods in 2017 and 2019 will not be subjected to the SPZ.The SPZ places a moratorium on any property owner found within the new flood zoning from renovating or rebuilding which as Beis told the crowd, “property values could go down while insurance costs go way up.”
Any home in the area that has been flooded with fifty percent damage or more would be forbidden from rebuilding. Homeowners who find themselves wrongly associated in the new flood zone are encouraged to voice their concerns via email at email@example.com and comments can be left until August 19th.
The government plans to release its decree in mid July.