Controversial Quebec "Flood Zones" To Get Second Look

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The Quebec government is promising to revise its controversial "flood zone" maps, which have set off anger among many residents and community leaders.

More than 500 people crowded into a public meeting in Campbell’s Bay, late Thursday afternoon, to speak out against the government’s new flood "Special Intervention Zones”, a map of places where building, rebuilding and renovating will be prohibited, or highly restricted.

The initial changes, outlined on a map that was distributed ahead of Thursday's meeting, included land well beyond those areas that were flooded in 2017 and 2019.  Many feared they would have a major impact on property values and communities for years to come.

After the meeting, Allumettes Island Director General Alicia Jones says they were assured that the maps weren't a done deal.

"The government has agreed to revise the maps to more accurately reflect the reality of the flooding", Jones told Pure Country 96.7.

"They will be releasing new maps and new directives in the new couple of weeks", she added.

Expressing Anger

Outside the meeting, resident Remy Fortin said residents shouldn’t pay the price for a disaster that many feel could have been prevented.

"They had plenty of time to get prepared and deal with the influx of water. I believe that they waited until the last minute”, Fortin told CTV News.

Politicians also spoke out, including Pontiac’s MNA (member of the Quebec Legislature), Andre Fortin, who says it’s just too much.

“The value of their property is directly impacted by the government of Quebec just taking a big Sharpie and just drawing wherever they felt over the map, and nobody here – none of the people behind me – can explain how the government came to such a conclusion”, Fortin said, surrounded by concerned residents and community leaders outside of the meeting.

Pontiac Warden Jane Toller says the region’s future is at stake.

“It will make the whole region very difficult to attract population”, Toller said.

“We lost population when the mills closed; we need to keep that population and grow it”, she added.

Closer to Pembroke, Allumettes Island is also impacted in a big way.  Township director General Alicia Jones says the changes are just too drastic.

“We really have to get out there and tell the government we disagree with what this looks like”, Jones told Pure Country 96.7.

“Not that we disagree with building in flood plains, but what this zone encompasses right now is very extreme and includes certain areas that will never see water.  We’re really going out there to fight for the right of the people here”, Jones added.

“This could drastically change the look of our territory and our region”, she said.

Feedback Being Gathered

Thursday’s meeting was essentially the only chance residents and community leaders had to speak out about the new zones in person.

However, residents still have an opportunity to provide feedback by email to the provincial ministry looking after the changes.

Your comments can be submitted by email to zis2019@mamh.gouv.qc.ca.

Pontiac County has provided more information about the process here:

http://www.mrcpontiac.qc.ca/en/floods-2019-government-of-quebec-public-consultation-on-the-draft-decree-for-the-special-intervention-zone/

And here are some more specifics from the Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Habitation:

https://www.mamh.gouv.qc.ca/publications/publications-en-anglais/#c18490

https://www.mamh.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/publications/ministere/inondations_printanieres_2019/mise_en_place_projetees_zis_ang.pdf

(with files from CTV's Mike Arsalides)