Calls increase for buyout deadline to be extended
Flood 2013: provincial government standing by Nov. 30 deadline
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 06:00 am
Calls are increasing for the provincial government to give people living in floodway areas more time to decide whether they will accept a buyout of their homes by a Nov. 30 deadline.
With less than two months to go before the deadline, foothills politicians say homeowners deserve more time to get all the information they need to make a decision.
MD of Foothills Coun. Ralph Nelson said he wants the Province to extend the Nov. 30 deadline for people in floodway areas to decide whether or not they will accept a buyout of their homes.
“That’s only two months away and I don’t think people are there yet in terms of making that kind of a decision,” said Nelson.
The provincial government has offered to buy out homes located in floodway areas if people move to higher ground, but homeowners have until Nov. 30 to make a decision.
Homeowners who accept the buyout will receive the full value of a home’s 2013 property tax assessment. The homes will be removed and properties will be remediated to a natural state.
Nelson’s home lies within the floodway west of High River, but he said he doesn’t plan on accepting provincial assistance or a buy out.
Nelson said future flood mitigation projects along the Highwood River west of High River could end up protecting homes currently in the floodway and people should see whether they will be protected before making a decision.
“If the solutions are coming and the result of those solutions are that they don’t have to move, then obviously they wouldn’t want to take the buy out,” he said.
Pat Stier, Livingston-Macleod MLA, echoed Nelson’s call saying the deadline should be extended. He said people have raised this issue with him saying they don’t have enough time to make the decision.
“I would think people in River Road area… and the people in Beachwood, they have a substantial piece of property there and it takes a while for someone to evaluate that, look at the assessment and see what kind of a hit they’re going to take,” said Stier.
Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths was not available to comment on the issue.
However, Kathleen Range, spokesperson for Griffiths, said the Province is not open to changing the deadline.
She said Nov. 30 is the deadline for people to indicate whether they are interested in a buyout, but they won’t be locked in and can change their minds.
“It by no means locks anyone into that decision if they decide further on down in the next few months that they do not want to continue,” she said.
People living in the Highwood River’s floodway say they need more time to get all the information they need to make a decision on the buyout.
Gord Orchard, who lives in the River Road area near High River, said he still needs more information before he can make a decision on the buyout.
“I need some answers from the people that are making the decisions on flood mitigation to know whether to stay where I live now or whether to relocate,” he said.
Orchard’s home was built 17 years ago and flooded for the first time this year.
He said he wants to know what projects will be done to protect against flooding on the Highwood further west of town and if they could protect his home.
River Road resident Chris Linnington said he doesn’t plan to accept a buy out and he’s not seeking any financial assistance from the provincial government.
Even if he was planning to, he said the Nov. 30 deadline wouldn’t give him enough time to make a decision.
While the Disaster Recovery Program would cover his home, there’s no certainty the program would cover damage to the agricultural buildings on his property.
“If you have outbuildings their not on the tax notice, to what you have This does not make sense to do I go through the mess of first applying for the DRP for your own house and then you have to go through a mess for agricultural buildings,” he said.
He started construction on a new home before the flood and it will be built above flood levels.
“I’ve been here over 15 years and right now I’ve got a brand new foundation that is approximately four feet up in the air,” he said.
Cam Crawford, president of the High River Residents Association, said some people have decided to stay in their homes and some have chosen to move. However, he said there are a lot of people who are still trying to decide what to do and they deserve to have more time to make a decision.
“I know there’s no perfect answers and not everybody is going to be happy, it just seems a little more time would certainly help and make sure that legitimate questions are answered,” he said.
Crawford lives in High River’s Beachwood area, which falls within the river’s floodway. He wouldn’t speak to his own situation, but he said there are still unanswered questions about whether or not flood protection in place for his neighbourhood will be repaired.
“That’s a very important consideration for a Beachwood resident who might be wrestling with that decision of do I stay or do I go,” he said.