Residents want answers
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 08:18 am
A Black Diamond resident questioning how to proceed financially after his home was damaged in last spring’s flood got few answers from council last week.
First Avenue resident Gary Reid wants to know what support he will receive after two levels of his $292,100 four-level split home filled with water on June 20 flood and asked council at its pubic meeting on Aug. 7 if his property taxes will be revised to reflect the damage. Reid’s taxes this year are approximately $3,000.
“Are you doing another tax assessment for houses on First and Second Avenue?” he asked council. “If it’s not going to happen we want to know why.”
Reid and more than two dozen of his neighbours’ homes were damaged after the Sheep River flooded its banks in the June flash flood.
Reid’s insurance company will reimburse him approximately $30,000 to renovate his basement, damaged from his sewer backing up, but not the damage done on the ground level of his home or his garage. He said what the insurance company also isn’t covering flood-proofing initiatives the Province is requesting residents living in the flood fringe to implement in their homes to qualify for government assistance in the event of future floods.
His electrical panel, furnace, water heaters, water treatment and central vac need to be replaced, as well as personal items lost including furniture. He expects it will set him back more than $50,000.
“I shouldn’t be paying anything,” he said following the meeting. “The house where it sits right now, it’s not worth nothing.”
Reid also asked council how he and his neighbours can access money being collected for flood victims.
“There is supposed to be millions of dollars donated to the Red Cross,” he said. “Where is that and how do we get some of it?”
Council was unable to answer Reid’s questions and agreed later in the evening to host an open house to address such questions, but councillors debated the value of holding such an event until they have more answers.
The date of the meeting wasn’t determined, but Mayor Sharlene Brown expects it will take place in either August or September.
“We’ve had lots of questions, lots of concerns,” she said. “Its way beyond time that we have some kind of communication, an open house, public consultation, question and answers and say where we are in our strategic pieces.”
Brown said a public meeting will allow the Town to update residents on its progress getting water from Turner Valley’s water treatment plant after Black Diamond’s was washed away in the flood, the Town’s efforts to get municipal funding for infrastructure damaged in the flood and efforts to remediate the Sheep River to prevent flooding in future years.
Not all councillors agreed an open house will benefit residents.
“My problem with an open house is all an open house will do is aggravate the anger that people are already feeling,” said Coun. Mike Ross. “We sure as hell don’t know the answers. If we can’t arrange to have some kind of answers all we are doing is pissing people off.”
Coun. Michel Jackson agreed, adding it would serve the public better to deliver a statement door to door.
“Put a letter out saying where we are at, where we are going, provincial information, let’s let them know where we are going and what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Open houses don’t seem to be very successful. Even the one we just had in Turner Valley. We have all these people who are affected and you look at the turnout and they weren’t all there.”
Coun. Sharon Hart agreed people in attendance might be angry if their questions aren’t answered, but said it’s an opportunity for the Town to find out the questions people are asking.
“There are other questions we haven’t even heard about,” she said. “Let’s give them some information so they are not wondering what’s going on.”
Coun. Jim Deacon said although council doesn’t have all the answers, its important residents are communicated with.
“We are hearing questions about what’s going to happen,” he said. “I realize that it will take a while for remediation for the river banks but we need an idea to give to the people because they are the ones who are totally affected. The mindset of these people must be just unbelievable. They are torn because they don’t know what to do.”
Coun. Diane Osberg said the Town should bring representatives from the provincial disaster recovery team to help answer questions regarding the Province’s efforts in flood recovery.
“If we have a meeting and people ask a lot of questions, we can record the questions and the answers that are given and then send that information out (to the community),” she said.