Halifax urged to help homeowners abandon properties in flood plain

Halifax is being urged to give up on a $1.5 million project to stop flooding in the Bedford area in favour of a province-wide program that helps homeowners abandon properties in flood prone areas.

Between 50 and 100 other homes in Halifax face a similar situation

Richard MacLellan, Halifax’s manager of energy and environment, says it may be time to explore the notion of abandonment. (CBC)

Halifax is being urged to give up on a $1.5 million project to stop flooding in the Bedford area in favour of a province-wide program that helps homeowners abandon properties in flood prone areas.

City staff say building a 600 metre concrete structure on the Sackville River in Bedford would cost twice as much as the homes it’s designed to protect.

Richard MacLellan, the city’s manager of energy and environment says even then, it might not work.

“Staff say it's time to explore the notion of abandonment, might be more reasonable than trying to fix something that we can't solve,” he said.

MacLellan says it’s a response to climate change and more frequent rain events, like the one in December that saw the Sackville River rise nearly three and a half metres and flooded homes on Union Street in Bedford.

It was Lily Li Reid’s second devastating flood in four years. She and her husband bought the home in an estate sale, unaware of the danger. They rebuilt after the last flood. They won’t this time.

Work continues on Lily Li Reid’s Union Street home after a flood in December. (CBC)

“No one wants their home to flood all the time. I don't want to be here anymore,” she said.

City staff say it would set an expensive precedent to buy the affected homes on Union Street, since between 50 and 100 other homes in Halifax face a similar situation.

Bedford councillor Tim Outhit says it’s time to ask the province to consider a residential abandonment program for use in flood prone areas across Nova Scotia.

“I think it's a good fit because in the long run, it might save money in terms of emergency measures claims and help us solve something as well,” he said.

The province has no comment, saying it would be premature since they have not received a request from the city.

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