There may be some hope for Grand Forks, B.C., residents who were left high and dry by flood recovery funding.
In May 2018, scores of homes and businesses were damaged by flooding when the Granby and Kettle rivers spilled their banks during the spring thaw.
Later that year, the city announced that it was going to purchase homes in the flood-prone areas. In turn, that was followed by an announcement earlier this year of $50 million in provincial and federal flood-mitigation funding.
However, many residents were shocked and upset that their properties were assessed at post-flood values, not pre-flood.
In July, the mayor of Grand Forks, Brian Taylor, told Global News the buyouts were a “serious issue. Highly emotional.”
This week, the city announced it has launched a new campaign with multiple goals, including a new buyout option.
“We’re excited about this project,” Taylor said in a press release.
“We believe it sets the stage for a strong, united effort to move Grand Forks from flood recovery through to community healing and pride.”
“We heard property owners loud and clear,” Taylor added, “when they said current fair-market buyout payments from senior governments based on post-flood values would leave them far short of what they needed to secure affordable housing.
“This option will help them get payments at or closer to pre-flood values, meaning they can invest more in their new homes.”
The city said within the next few weeks, a consultant will be selected to build a land-acquisition team and to develop buyout processes, protocols and payout agreements. It said purchase agreements could begin in December.
The city noted that flooding caused $38 million in damages to the North Ruckle, South Ruckle, Johnson Flats and downtown areas.
The press release said the campaign has $55 million in funding ($20 million from the federal government, $31.5 million from the provincial government and $3.5 million from the City of Grand Forks).
Of that $55 million, it’s estimated that $12 to $15 million will go towards property buyouts, with the rest used for floodplain restoration and infrastructure upgrades or replacements.