Quebec government seeks to make flood compensation process 'more fair'

The government will now offer municipalities the ability to apply for a collective exemption to reconstruction limitations for an entire neighbourhood rather than forcing homeowners to do it individually.

Government to tweak housing evaluations, allow collective applications for exemptions from rebuilding rules

The Quebec government has made changes to its flood reconstruction plan that will allow more homeowners to rebuild. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

There may be good news on the horizon for some flood victims who were told they wouldn't be allowed to rebuild.

On Wednesday, the Quebec government announced changes to its plan to manage reconstruction of homes damaged by this spring's flooding.

Going forward, the government will offer municipalities the ability to apply for a collective exemption to reconstruction limitations.

That means whole neighbourhoods could be exempt from "special intervention zones," rather than homeowners having to apply individually.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux says these new measures will help protect the future of flood affected neighbourhoods. (CBC)

A total of 211 of these zones, defined as vulnerable to flooding every zero to 20 years, were identified across the province. They are subject to a government order forbidding all new construction and severely restricting the rebuilding of damaged houses.

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said that this change was made to prevent entire neighbourhoods from being suddenly depopulated and would make the whole process "more fair" for homeowners.

Another change concerns the valuation of properties.

The valuation will now take into account the value of land as well as the value of the house to account for cases where a less valuable building may stand on a more valuable piece of property.

The government will also now base its valuation of whether a home is damaged by more than 50 per cent of its total value on the cost of new construction, not on municipal valuations.

Coiteux estimates the changes announced today could add an additional $15 million to the cost of the government's flood relief plan.
Thousands of people have put forward applications for government funding in the province already. (Mike O'Shaughnessy/CBC)

Last week, he announced that the government would be ramping up its efforts to process home inspection reports and release compensation packages.

Coiteux promised that more staff would be hired and homeowners whose properties had been inspected would receive their report within five weeks.

In mid-May, the Liberal government increased the amount of money Quebecers can receive in compensation for damage to their flooded homes to a maximum of $200,000.

That amount doesn't include money for movable objects, living expenses and measures undertaken by residents to protect their homes, all of which are subject to different maximums.​

'This is not a house, it's a home'

A couple in Pointe-Calumet told CBC on Tuesday that they aren't after any government money, they just want to be allowed to do repairs on their property.
Michael Guérard says he's hoping to be allowed to pay for repairs on his basement. (CBC)

"I'm willing to pay for it myself. I don't even want the tax dollars," said Michael Guérard. "All we want is to have our home."

He said they've never seen a drop of water in 36 years living in the same house. As a result of the spring flooding, their basement was badly damaged.

"We lost everything in the basement," said Guérard, holding his wife Debbie Pizzuto. "Even her wedding dress."

The couple is worried they won't be allowed to rebuild based on the government's existing plan.

"The evaluation of this sector is low. The evaluation of houses are low because we have no services, we have no water, we have no sewers," he said.

Guérard says all he wants is to rebuild and go back to normal.

"We don't want to be expropriated," he said. "This is not a house, it's a home."

"Our children were brought up here," added Pizzuto. "This is where I want to die. This is my place."

With files from Steve Rukavina