Calgary flood-damaged homes that province bought for $51M will be razed

The Alberta government will demolish 17 flood-damaged houses along the Elbow River in Calgary that it purchased amid controversy for $51 million after the 2013 flood.

Elbow Park, Rideau and Roxboro residents to be consulted on future of vacant lands

The Alberta government confirmed Wednesday that it will tear down 17 homes along the Elbow River in Calgary that it bought after the June 2013 flood, saying they are beyond repair. (The Canadian Press)

The Alberta government will demolish the flood-damaged houses along the Elbow River in Calgary that it purchased amid controversy for  $51 million after the 2013 flood.

The province bought a number of properties, including the 17 houses in the Calgary neighbourhoods of Elbow Park, Rideau and Roxboro.

The empty houses were damaged beyond repair by the flood and have fallen into further disrepair, Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said Wednesday.

Larivee also said it would be irresponsible to sell the properties as is and allow people to rebuild on them, at least until flood mitigation measures are completed.

"After careful consideration, it is clear that removing these homes is the best option," said Larivee. 

That means these communities will have a patchwork of empty lots in their neighbourhoods for several years.

Neighbouring homeowners to the empty properties have expressed concerns about the homes being left vacant, which they say attracts crime and lowers property values.

Brenda Leeds Binder, co-president of the Calgary River Communities Action Groups, says she is pleased with the province's decision.

"I'm very happy to hear that the intent, once the flood mitigation measures have been built and are operating, [is] to have this property go back into the private sector to be used for homes," said Leeds Binder, who lives near a flooded-out home in Riverdale. 

Province, city to meet with neighbours

The province and the city plan to hold a meeting in January to talk about short-term uses for the soon-to-be vacant pieces of land.

Larivee says the province and the city want to consult with the affected residents about protecting the quality of life in their neighbourhoods. Neighbours have already received a letter about the community meeting.

"Our expectation previously ... was that those properties were going to be turned into park areas and available to be used by the public," said Leeds Binder.

"I personally would like to see that land be landscaped and be used just as park in the interim, rather than have it fenced off and be unsightly and a potentially dangerous situation in terms of attracting crime." 

Besides the January meeting with the minister and Mayor Neheed Nenshi, residents are encouraged to send in their suggestions to Municipal Affairs.

A demolition start date has not been determined because it is weather dependent, but will begin as soon as possible.