Province unveils new flood-proofing rules

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

Homeowners who choose to stay in high-risk zones may not receive future disaster recovery money

Areas identified as floodways (red) and flood fringes (pink) are most dramatically evident along the North Saskatchewan River in northeast Edmonton and along the Sturgeon River in St. Albert. (Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development )

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 (shown in red) or flood fringe (shown in pink).

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

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

Provincial changes

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, 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.

"Homeowners need to be aware that, depending on their decisions, recovery funding may not be available in the event of future flooding," said Griffiths.

"Funding under the Disaster Recovery Program is not insurance — it comes with conditions. It would not be a prudent use of taxpayer dollars to support behaviour that puts people's homes and safety in harm's way," he added.

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

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

No universal solution

Griffiths said the province will be working with municipalities on a case-by-case basis to determine what exactly needs to be done to reduce future flooding risks.

"There is not one solution the province is going to put into place to say everyone needs to raise their home five feet or everyone needs to build a berm around their community," he said. "It doesn't work like that."

"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."

In the meantime, the province is urging Albertans displaced by the flood to consider rebuilding elsewhere.

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