November 4, 2013
Alberta introduces legislation to limit floodway development
The Alberta government is introducing legislation to mitigate damage from future flood disasters in the aftermath of billions of dollars in flood damage to southern Alberta in June.
“When the floods hit, we acted quickly to respond and rebuild in a way that ensured Albertans are better protected from future floods,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs, Doug Griffiths.
“We’re now putting these policies into law, creating a strong foundation of protection for the future.”
The Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act, Bill 27, was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on Oct. 28.
It aims to establish policies that will stop further development in floodways, lessen future flood damage in flood prone areas and ensure homebuyers are informed of whether a property in a flood hazard area is eligible for future disaster assistance.
Bill 27 involves seven different amendments to the Municipal Government Act and the Emergency Management Act.
The amendments will ban municipalities from approving new developments in floodways.
However, Drumheller and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray) will be exempt.
Both municipalities are built on floodways and have strong mitigation measures in place.
The Municipality of Wood Buffalo passed a land use bylaw amendment on Aug. 2.
The bylaw aims to ensure new habitable development is located above the one in 100 year flood level.
New non-habitable development below a one in 100 year flood elevation will have adequate flood protection measures.
The bylaw is a response to the flooding of the Hangingstone and Clearwater Rivers, which began on June 11 and caused significant damage to public infrastructure, private property and natural areas.
The floodway area in Fort McMurray is based on the danger of an ice jam event, a waterway blockage that leads to regional flooding, rather than the open water flooding events more typical in other communities.
The Town of Drumheller also has development policies in place through its land use bylaw that restricts development in flood risk areas.
The town is working with the province to finalize an approved development zone that would allow development in certain areas, providing adequate mitigation measures are put in place.
The two communities, both of which are largely located in floodways, will be required to ensure appropriate mitigation measures are in place to protect against a one in 100 year flood event.
Homeowners will not be eligible for relocation compensation.
In addition, Bill 27 will provide homeowners in flood fringe areas with additional funding to mitigate their homes against future flood damage.
The funding is available for properties that were damaged as a result of the June 2013 floods and applied for disaster assistance.
Notices will be placed on the land titles of properties in flood hazard areas that received disaster assistance due to the June 2013 floods.
The notice will indicate that the property is not eligible for future assistance.
Property owners in the flood fringe can have the notice removed from their land title by putting flood mitigation measures in place.
Properties in a floodway will have a permanent notice.
The new legislation will also increase the period for a state of emergency in the province to 28 days instead of 14 days before they expire or need to be renewed.
According to statistics released by the provincial government on Oct. 28, the floods on June 20 impacted more than 100,000 Albertans in 30 communities.
More than 9,100 Albertans applied for disaster recovery assistance, including about 1,200 small businesses.
Of the 9,100 applications, about 8,100 qualify for support and more than 7,000 have had an on-site assessment.
To date, more than 2,700 disaster recovery payments have been issued to applicants for a total of $14.1 million.
Of the 250 eligible floodway homeowners, 67 have expressed interest in the relocation program.
Offers have been accepted for 22 homes valued at $13.8 million.
Homeowners, who choose not to relocate, will not receive Disaster Recovery Program support in future floods.
The province has had about 59 requests from qualified applicants for Disaster Recovery Program advances for furnaces and hot water tanks.
So far, 48 cheques have been processed and the remaining are being processed.
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