Quebec’s new flood maps identify large areas of residential property as being at potential risk, creating huge ramifications for property values, insurance and rebuilding plans in those zones.
People who live in the new flood-risk areas argue the maps aren’t correct – a matter that came to a head at a meeting Thursday night.
The public meeting in Pointe-Claire was held by the Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and was one of 23 held at the same time across the province to take comments from the public as a new updated flood zone map is prepared for implementation in mid-July.
The meeting was so crowded, police were called in.
The map is crucial as it determines who can rebuild after flood damage and which areas are now considered to be in flood zones -- even if, in some cases, those areas never experienced a flood.
But officials on hand were hard-pressed to make many in the crowd feel satisfied.
"They're talking to us like we're numbers, we're addresses we're not people we're not their mothers their fathers or brothers or sisters we're just numbers and they don't care," said Andre Lavigne, a resident of Pierrefonds.
Provincial officials told flood victims and others they could not answer many basic questions, for example about whether or not residents would be reimbursed for an expert analysis of their homes.
They could not say if people in zones now considered to be flood-prone would be able to lobby to change the new map zoning.
Irene Teclaw was one of many Beaconsfield residents angered to find the shores of Lake St. Louis declared a flood zone.
"On our lake, Lake St. Louis, water is controlled by [the] Cornwall [dam]. They release output of water, the government is aware of it so whenever the water goes up it's being regulated, and suddenly the entire shore of Lake St. Louis was put in the red zone," said Teclaw.
There were jeers when a person complained that none of the information on jumbo screens was in English and he was told it was because of Bill 101.
Pierrefonds-Roxboro Borough Mayor Jim Beis said he found it confusing since there are several maps for different groups in the same region.
"There is no continuity with the maps we are using today as citizens, as cities to apply the laws that are instructed to us by the [provincial] government, and we are doing our best but we have three different maps now that we have to work with, and it's affecting everybody in this room including the people that live on the ground," said Beis.
Louise Douesnard, who lives in Roxboro, was one of many who complained they feel the process is going much too quickly and that the CAQ government is imposing a one-size fits all solution.
"Our main concern is that there is a dike that's been built 40 years ago and we can think 40 years ago in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, so 40 years it's been holding up but now it's showing signs of weaknesses and we are getting worried about this situation," she said.
The information collected from the regional meetings is supposed to be reviewed by officials as they prepare the next version of the map.
More information is available on the ministry’s website
See the map here (be patient, it can be slow to load):