British Columbia

Grand Forks offers land to residents whose homes bought out after flood

The city of Grand Forks announced it is planning to offer city-owned land to residents whose homes are being bought out by the government after a devastating flood in 2018.

Many are concerned they can't afford to buy a new home in city

Downtown Grand Forks completely soaked in water from both the Granby and Kettle Rivers in the spring of 2018. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The city of Grand Forks announced it is planning to offer city-owned land to residents whose homes are being bought out by the government after a devastating flood in 2018.

About 120 properties that sit on a flood plain in the North and South Ruckle neighbourhoods in the southern Interior city are slated to be bought out as part of a $50 million package the provincial, federal and local governments put together to try and help the flood-ravaged community recover, and restore part of the land to a natural flood plain. 

However, many residents were upset when they found out in the summer that their properties would be purchased by the government at post-flood values, as opposed to what they were worth before they were damaged.

Some were concerned they wouldn't be able to find affordable housing in the city. 

"People are feeling that they're losing their property and their assets," said Mayor Brian Taylor. 

"Our property values are reasonable but we're still beyond the reach of some people who are having to leave what they have in North Ruckle."

New campaign

The city's campaign will assess what land is available in the city that can be given to those being displaced, with the help of a new acquisition team it is hiring, and a capital projects manager that will oversee the process. 

The city will negotiate with everyone on a case-by-case basis. It is still unknown if the city will build a new neighbourhood, or if it will give away lots in different locations.

Residents who accept the land will still receive their buy-out packages, Taylor told Radio West host Sarah Penton.

A combination of river water and sewage swamped the suburb of Ruckle in Grand Forks in the spring of 2018. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"It doesn't really bring them up to the to the pre-flood value of their property, but it gets a lot closer than we were before, and so it's a big improvement in terms of their ability to stay in our town to find a way to stay in Grand Forks," he said.

Taylor hopes the city will be able to share the cost of sewage and water connections to the lots with the provincial government.

Mixed reaction

The announcement is still fresh in the community, but the mayor has already heard a range of feedback.

"Generally, I think some people are happy that we've gone the extra mile to try and find some way of giving them more, and other people are saying it's not enough," said Taylor.

Resident Dave Soroka, who has a property with his wife Nora on the buy-out list, is conflicted about the news. It's been nearly a year-and-a-half since the flood, and they still haven't received money for the buy-out.

"I think people are kind of absorbing it. We've been misled in the past and so I think probably the first question people are going to ask is, can we trust this?" Soroka said.

"It sounds wonderful, but I'm not sure I trust it because it's giving someone a financial lift."

With files from Radio West

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