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Council to deliberate buy out policy direction for more than 100 properties

espite only receiving funding for the post flood value, the City is considering what in-kind support it can give to the residents struggling to relocate.

In a media release, the City for Grand Forks said City Council will discuss the mitigation project buy outs and policy direction at the 9 a.m. July 15th Committee of the Whole.

The meeting will hopefully give more information to residents about the process and in-kind support under consideration.

The release said the property transfer process needs to be set to give property owners a better idea of when they can expect to formally hear from the City as well as to clarify the post flood value. The general mitigation project timeline has a time range for the buy outs from late 2019 through to 2020. No specific dates have been set yet.

Despite only receiving funding for the post flood value, the City is considering what in-kind support it can give to the residents struggling to relocate.

“I should set the story straight on a couple of things, but I want to get to this first,” said Mayor Brian Taylor.

“Post flood value means current fair market value. We got some budget numbers from the appraisals last year, but obviously things have changed since then. We aren’t aiming to necessarily use the numbers in those appraisals because you may have improved the value of your property since then and that wouldn’t be in the spirit of current fair market value.”

The release said the first step in the buy out process was to secure the funding commitment from the federal and provincial governments. This happened with the announcement June 26, 2019.

Now that the funding is committed, the City is working to confirm the process that residents can expect for the buy out process.

By discussing the policy issues in open meeting, Council is hoping to hear from concerned residents during the decision making process. The decision to buy out the North Ruckle neighbourhood comes from the September 4, 2018 decision of Council to endorse the recommendations from the Dobson Engineering report.

The report notes: “Constructing a standard dike does not eliminate the need for the dwellings protected by the dike from being constructed/reconstructed at the required FCL [flood construction level]. A dike does provide a significant level of protection but dikes can fail or be overtopped under extreme events such as was experienced in 2018. Further, there is the matter of the local water table that is naturally close to the surface and often rises during high river flows and can result in local flooding.”

“Council considers public safety first and foremost in its actions and policy decisions” said Mayor Taylor.

“Even if we built the best dike in the world, we just don’t know what the weather will be doing in the future. What we saw with our updated flood model is that climate change is real and makes it riskier to rely on engineered solutions in the floodplain. We’re building back better and that means making the hard decisions in the best interest of our community and its safety.”