Provincial flood help not enough, says Wildrose's Smith

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says provincial flood assistance puts too much onus on homeowners and municipalities.

Alberta's Opposition leader says there is too much onus on homeowners

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith responded Tuesday to new details released by the province about helping those affected by the floods. Smith says she's glad there is clarity, but thinks it should have come sooner. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says provincial flood assistance is putting too much onus on Alberta residents and municipalities.

The Opposition leader's comments come after the province released new details Sunday on providing assistance for rebuilding, meeting flood mitigation standards and protecting future homeowners.

"It seems like the government's approach at this point has all been to lay it at the feet of the homeowner to solve the problem," said Smith on the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday

  • Listen to the interview:

"There are all kinds of reports from every community about ways in which you can build spillways, reservoirs, berming, dams, drudging rivers to be able to direct water away from developed areas," she said.

Many people tried to set up their own mitigation but were stopped by the province, said Smith.

New infrastructure needed

"The very first step this government should have taken was establishing what kind of community-based infrastructure they were going to build to protect communities as a whole and then get accurate flood mapping and then start looking at what the onus on homeowners is," she said.

"They're being very, very unclear about what, if any, flood mitigation measures they're going to do at the provincial level."

Smith said she's glad the province has released a clarification on what assistance is available.

  • LISTEN: Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths on flood assistance announcement.

But the government has not kept their commitments on timeframes for the programs.

"The government needs to focus, rather than on what the limitations are, they need to actually focus on actually reaching some of the commitments, getting some of those dollars out, getting them flowing so that people can start rebuilding their lives," she said.

"I wish they'd given this clarity weeks ago because I think this is the kind of information that homeowners have been waiting for as they've gone through the process of mucking out their basements and they're considering rebuilding."

Flood maps problematic, says Smith

She said she feels the new numbers, based on what the average home in the community would cost to replace, are reasonable but says the real problem is that the flood maps aren't accurate.

"The problem that the government has is that they are not working off of accurate flood maps," said Smith.

The High River-area MLA said the flood maps her community has been assigned are from the 1990s.

"If you don't actually use accurate flood maps then you are going to have people who weren't flooded out at all being forced to do flood mitigation measures," said Smith.

This makes for a "chaotic" situation for homeowners, she said.

"People are making huge financial decisions, massive financial decisions, on the basis of these arbitrary lines that have been drawn on the map."