The City of Grand Forks and the Osoyoos Indian Band have reached an agreement regarding homes located within a floodplain restoration area.
In 2018, many low-lying homes in the North Ruckle neighbourhood were damaged from catastrophic spring flooding. Eventually, officials made the decision to reclaim and repurpose properties in flood-prone neighbourhoods through a recovery buyout program.
In announcing the new agreement on Wednesday, the two parties said “up to 10 houses will be moved and another 10 modular houses constructed in three potential areas, providing much-needed housing for Grand Forks residents.”
According to the city, a flood mitigation program that was set up in 2019 will protect homes, businesses and infrastructure. The city said the 2018 flood damaged more than 400 homes and destroyed another 50.
“With over $50 million in federal and provincial grant funds, Grand Forks is creating an extensive network of dikes, flood walls, floodplains, and engineered stormwater management systems,” the city said.
“As part of this program, houses within the floodplain restoration area and in the dike alignment were acquired from their owners. A few were damaged beyond repair and will be sold off, salvaged, or demolished. However, a number of these houses are still in good condition, which led to the agreement with OIB.”
The city said up to 10 houses were identified as candidates for relocation.
The city also said the cost to move, create a foundation, and undertake necessary repairs and updates was a factor, and cost-prohibitive for many of the larger and smaller houses.
“The 2018 flood was like nothing Grand Forks has seen in its history, and brought tremendous destruction and upheaval for residents. We are also facing a serious housing crisis,” said Mayor Brian Taylor.
“Saving some of these homes from the flood plain area is a silver lining, and we are very grateful to the Osoyoos Indian Band for making this opportunity a reality. We really value the relationship the City is developing with OIB and look forward to continuing it.”
Chief Clarence Louie said the Osoyoos Indian Band “has developed a good business relationship with the City of Grand Forks.”
“We look forward to developing this housing project which sits on the Osoyoos Indian Band’s traditional territory,” Louie said.
The OIB will lead the house moving and land development for three potential building sites.
“The OIB will move the houses from their current location within the floodplain restoration area, set them on new foundations, and undertake any necessary repairs or updates,” said the joint statement.
“The OIB’s Development Corporation has the skills and financial capacity to lead the development without financial risk for the city.”
The city noted that once the houses are moved, repaired and connected to services, they will be offered for sale.
“Housing is a foundation to thriving communities, and creative solutions to our housing challenges are always exciting to me,” said Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell.
“This partnership between the Osoyoos Indian Band and the City of Grand Forks is a great example of an environmental, social, and economic win: recycle-reuse writ large, adding rapid housing solutions, building community partnerships, and increasing local economic activity.
“All that means our local people win—congratulations to everyone involved with this innovative project.”