Quebec cracks down on homeowners trying to rebuild in high-risk flood zones
Environment Minister David Heurtel says province wants to 'ensure everybody's safety' after spring flooding
The Quebec government says it will strictly enforce rules that forbid homes that have been condemned or were destroyed by severe flooding this spring to be rebuilt if they are in areas at high risk of flooding.
Environment Minister David Heurtel said Thursday the move to forbid rebuilding in zones that are likely to flood once every 20 years is necessary to protect homeowners.
"We're basically saying we want to ensure everybody's safety, we know these things are going to happen more and more often," Heurtel said. "They are going to be more and more devastating."
"This is not in your safety's interest to rebuild if your home has been destroyed."
Flood victims who are not located in 20-year flood zones are allowed to carry out renovations and rebuild their homes if they pass inspection.
The province estimates that 278 municipalities were affected by flooding, and 500 to 800 homes were declared a total loss.
It's not clear how many of those homes are located in high-risk areas.
Rising floodwaters forced more than 5,300 people from their homes during April and May, and hundreds are still unable to return home.
The government also announced it will hold public consultations next month and meet with residents in each region affected by flooding.
A special forum will also be held this fall to discuss climate change, land development and preventive measures concerning flooding.
Preparing for future floods
Heurtel said the province will update existing flood maps and create maps for the 65 municipalities affected by flooding that didn't and still don't have flood maps.
It's a necessary step considering how extensive the damage was from flooding this year, and the quickening pace of climate change, he said.
"We will reevaluate the way we're doing this so we can be better prepared, so we will have updated maps that integrate these new realities that are changing far, far faster than ever before."
With files from CBC's Jay Turnbull