Siksika, Stoney reserves flood recovery to cost 3 times original estimate

The provincial government says flood recovery on the Siksika and Stoney nations could take up to three more years and will cost three times more than originally budgeted.

Province committed $110 million last year but repairs now expected to cost $345 million

Members of the Eden Valley reserve southwest of Calgary say the flood damage from 2013 is still a reality in their community. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

The provincial government says flood recovery on the Siksika and Stoney nations could take up to three more years and will cost three times more than originally budgeted.

“There's not one family that's got their house fixed yet. Not one,” said Eden Valley band councillor Rex Daniels.

“They're working on some houses now. That, in my mind, should've been happening last fall. It could've been handled in a different manner. It took a whole year to get any kind of OK to start work on the houses."

Daniels said there are about 150 homes on the reserve and roughly 100 had flooding.

These temporary housing trailers were installed on the Eden Valley reserve this fall. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Martha Dixon was living in a condemned house on the Eden Valley reserve.

"I didn't know where to go, 'cause the house was condemned and no one would help us,” said Dixon. “I was really worried but I tried my best to keep it so clean [and] bleach it every day."

The house was torn down last week. The family is now in interim housing in Eden Valley in six trailers brought in this fall.

Repairs estimated to cost $345M

"We're in very, very bad shape now because there's people that shouldn't be living in their houses are starting to move back in their houses,” said Daniels. “The overcrowding is more than ever."

The province committed $110 million last December to repairs and temporary housing, but now the repairs are expected to cost $345 million.

One of the temporary housing neighbourhoods set up on Stoney Nakoda Nation in the Morley area. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

"We remain committed to ensuring the homes damaged by last year's floods are safe and sound for residents to move back into," said Martin Dupuis with Alberta's Aboriginal Relations department in an email.

"From day one, we have worked side by side with the Stoney Nakoda to help find proper, safe temporary accommodations for the flood victims until their homes are rebuilt or repaired."

He said the province made the decision to "treat First Nations like any other Albertan right from the start." The federal government will be chipping in for the flood recovery costs, but Dupuis said the total amount has not yet been determined.

Flood recovery by the numbers: 

  • Stoney Nakoda Nation has more than 4,600 people living in three remote and dispersed areas (Eden Valley, Morley and Big Horn).
  • Initially, $110.7 million was approved for the project (Siksika and Stoney Nakoda), however additional inspections resulted in an increase in the scope of the housing project.
  • $345 million over five years was approved in June 2014 to be used for repairs, rebuilds, relocations and interim housing.
  • The policy also includes the development of skills training programs that will offer nation members the opportunity to work on the repairs and rebuilds and to develop skills that will benefit the communities in the long term. A total of $9.7 million will be shared by both nations (Siksika and Stoney Nakoda) for training people on the rebuild.
  • The construction of four interim housing sites was undertaken (three at Morley and one at Eden Valley) to accommodate evacuees while their homes are repaired and rebuilt.
  • 548 homes were impacted on Stoney Nakoda.
  • 30 homes have been completely repaired and 312 homes have had basement repairs completed.

*information provided by Alberta's Aboriginal Relations department 

Siksika First Nation, about 100 kilometres east of Calgary, received extensive damage in the 2013 flood. (John Rieti/CBC)


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