Alberta unveils new flood-proofing rules

New flood-proofing standards announced by the provincial government put the onus on homeowners to move or flood-proof their homes.

Homeowners who stay in high-risk zones would not get future disaster recovery money

The province has created new flood-mapping standards in the hopes of preventing future flood events in Alberta.

The new rules categorize areas in high-risk flood zones as being in either the floodway (red zone) or flood fringe (pink area).

"They will alter the course of development in our province," said Doug Griffiths, Alberta's municipal affairs minister.

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 choose to relocate, the province will assist them — in some cases, that means by purchasing land.

Homeowners living in flood fringe areas must do flood-proofing if they are to be covered in the future. They will be eligible for an extra 15 per cent on compensation to complete that proofing, which could include efforts like raising homes off the ground.

Homes in floodways will have a notation attached so that future homeowners know the risks of the home they are buying.

There are no numbers yet on how many people or homes would fall under either of the two categories.

For 20 years, John Malus has lived on the banks of the Bow River. But even with flood damage of $125,000 to his house, his family is staying put, he said.

"This is a park-like environment, we love our place. My wife would die rather than move from here," he said.

Very little of High River is actually in the red zone, or floodway.

However, it is not the only community where the new standards are being implemented.

Similar mapping efforts will be coming in the weeks ahead and the province will be working with municipalities on a case-by-case basis.

"We're going to need to work with communities and homeowners to find the best solution for their situation, and we promise to do that," said Griffiths.

The province will also make legislative changes so communities cannot allow development in areas marked as floodways.

"We would prefer that people move out of the floodway," said Griffiths. "If they stay there, that's all they get."