Accuracy of Alberta flood zone maps questioned
Some flooded High River residents upset that their properties were excluded from flood zones
The provincial government’s flood zone maps are causing uproar in High River where residents of the worst-hit parts of town were baffled to learn their properties aren’t considered at risk.
Properties near flood-prone rivers have been grouped into four categories: floodway, flood fringe, overland flow or under review.
Homeowners who live in the floodway can choose to rebuild and repair, or leave. If they stay they will not be eligible for any future Disaster Recovery Fund assistance. If they relocate, the province will assist them — in some cases by purchasing land.
People whose land is designated as flood fringe must flood-proof their homes if they want to be covered in the future. They will be eligible for an extra 15 per cent compensation to pay for the proofing.
But to the frustration of many people in High River, most homes there are not considered to be in a flood zone.
High River resident Barry Elliott, who is still cleaning up nearly a month after a wall of water flooded his home, said he wants to put it all behind him.
"I'm hoping for a buyout at a realistic price," he said.
But the provincial flood zone map says Elliott's home isn't in a floodway, just the flood fringe -- making a government buyout unlikely.
According to town councillor Jamie Kinghorn, the maps being used by the province are from 1992.
"We may have to look at most recent information to determine what actually is floodway and what is flood plain," he said.
The town's director of engineering, Albert Flootman, said it’s up to the province to fix the map.
"They set the overall rules, and then council has authority under the municipal government act, so if the province makes changes we certainly will work within those," he said.
Flootman said he was told changes may be coming in the fall sitting of the legislature.