Comprehensive flood plan needed for High River
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 10:49 am
The Province has taken the first step in recognizing that homeowners should be encouraged not to rebuild in areas prone to flooding. However the treatment of owners located in floodways and flood fringe areas leaves much to be desired. These designations immediately reduce the value of any home located in these areas, as future provincial disaster assistance for owners of these properties may be limited or nonexistent. This has the same effect as expropriation without compensation. Since the municipalities and the Province permitted construction of dwellings in these areas in the first place, it seems unfair that the homeowners who built there in good faith should be penalized.
What the Province is offering is a band-aid solution at best. Without flood control efforts being implemented it is doubtful that the market value of housing in flood damaged areas will ever recover.
What is needed is a comprehensive flood control plan designed by engineers to prevent flooding in the future. The plan would include the construction of berms, channels, floodplains and dams designed to hold back and divert floodwater away from flood prone areas. Investment in flood control measures will save money in the long term. Manitoba has invested $1 billion in flood mitigation efforts since 1997 and it is estimated that this investment has prevented over $7 billion in flood damage.
Individual citizens should not be required to make the decision to relocate from floodway areas. Rather, the Province, after determining where diversionary channels and other related structures are to be located, should require all buildings located in these areas be removed and their owners should be appropriately compensated. If adequate flood control measures were put in place, then it would not be necessary to require those in fringe areas to flood proof their property as they would no longer be in danger of flooding.
Alberta has experienced flooding in 1995, 2005, 2011 and 2013. Whatever the cause, frequent flooding appears to be here to stay. Now is the time to do something about it.