Perth-Andover pushes for relocation funding

The Village of Perth-Andover is pushing for funding for relocation purposes as part of a plan to mitigate future flood damage.

Many villagers believe Beechwood Dam at the root of problem

Moving or flood-proofing many houses and businesses in Perth-Andover would cost the provincial government about $7.5 million, according to a report released Friday. (Susan King/CBC)

The Village of Perth-Andover is pushing to receive funding for relocation purposes as part of a plan to mitigate future flood damage.

A team of community, provincial and federal representatives released a study Friday on how to prevent a repeat of the devastating flooding last March.

Moving or flood-proofing the northwestern village would cost the provincial government about $7.5 million, according to the report.

The province has paid out some flood-damage claims, but some homeowners have been waiting for word on a relocation program before starting repairs.

"The important thing is what does the premier do with (the report). We're waiting for an announcement and we hope it's today," says Flood Victims Committee chair Al McPhail.

"They list a number of options for flood-proofing and relocation — all of those were discussed since the mid-70s. There's really nothing new.

"They did update some data, but really what's happened is we've wasted basically four months, our entire summer season, and we're still sitting here in this flood zone."

Dan Dionne, the chief administrative officer of Perth-Andover, says the village's most significant recommendation is the relocation of more than 70 homes to higher ground.

Dionne said he is also hoping for help for about 50 businesses and non-profit groups that were in the flood zone.

"We certainly have to do more for our businesses, either a relocation program for them or look at raising up a section of the downtown area to get these businesses up to a safe level," he says.

"Because without our business community, it won't be good in the long-term for our municipality, that's for sure." 

Currently, commercial buildings are not being considered for relocation. Dr. Terrence Shaw, a local dentist, owns four buildings damaged by floodwater.

"I think they also should look at relocating some businesses or else NB Power should expropriate them, buy them and we will lease them back or rent them back from NB Power," Shaw suggests. 

"They can be the landlord, take the risk and run the madness. I mean, these are properties that 50 or 60 years ago, when they built the dam — if people knew they were going to be flooded, they would have been expropriated."

Skepticism remains over causes of repeated flooding

Some people in Perth-Andover are skeptical about part of the report on flood mitigation.  

The report released on Friday says the Beechwood Dam had little to do with the problem. That finding was based on an internal investigation by NB Power.

The utility hired an independent consultant to verify whether its policies were followed.

Dionne says most people in the village believe the dam is a major part of the flood problem.  

"There's 19 floods on record. Only five of those were in the 70 years before the dam, when the river was at a lower level. Since the dam in 1955, there's been 14 floods in the Perth-Andover area. The first basement flooding in the community was in 1958," Dionne says.

"So, of course, people in the community are a bit skeptical that the dam doesn't have anything to do with our flooding."

Nobody from the Department of Environment and Local Government would comment on the report, other than to say the provincial government has received it and will respond "in due course."