Flood victim's restaurant, home in limbo after Quebec denies financial assistance
Tekka Grill owner says government refused financial assistance since damages are linked to sewer backup
It's been over three months since Pierrefonds business owner Michael Gad shut the doors to his Mediterranean restaurant, Tekka Grill, on St-Jean Boulevard. It was submerged in over three feet of water for days, cutting off Gad's only source of income for his family.
Now, with his restaurant still closed and no money coming in, Gad says he may lose his home.
"I didn't expect that, in a day, I'm going to lose everything, and I'm going to check my bank account every day in order to pay my debts," Gad said.
"This is a hard situation."
As the flood waters receded in Pierrefonds, Gad was able to judge the extent of the damage to his restaurant: about $125,000 in ruined equipment and furniture.
Gad reached out to the provincial government and his insurance company for help — but says the province won't assist since damages are linked to a sewer backup during the historic spring flooding.
Insurance will only cover about a third of the damages, leaving him with few options.
"I was expecting good help from the government, as they promised," Gad said. "But at the end, I found that it's just promises."
'An insurable risk'
After hearing about the provincial government's financial assistance plan for flood victims, Gad made a claim with the public security ministry.
The plan states that businesses could receive up to $265,000 in compensation for "damage to property essential to operation," including "land, buildings, infrastructures, equipment, [and] inventory."
However, Gad received a letter from the ministry in July saying his request for assistance was denied, on the grounds that the program doesn't apply to damage caused by an "insurable risk."
Although Gad's restaurant was submerged at the height of flooding in the area, the ministry explained that the business was, in fact, damaged by a sewer backup.
The letter goes on to state that, because that kind of damage is insurable, the ministry "cannot grant you financial assistance."
'We failed him'
The Tekka Grill is located in a shopping centre on the intersection of St-Jean and Pierrefonds boulevards. The CBC obtained a copy of a letter sent by the landlord's lawyer to Gad, stating that all the stores in that shopping centre were affected by sewer backups on May 6.
Although Gad's restaurant equipment was insured for up to $150,000, he says his insurer would only cover damage caused by a sewer backup up to $50,000.
With the cost of re-tiling the restaurant's walls added to his equipment losses, Gad says the insurance money only covers a third of what he would need to get his business back up and running.
Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough councillor Justine McIntyre, of Vrai Changement pour Montréal, says the Quebec government's refusal to help ignores the root cause of the damage: the elevated water levels in the area.
"The sewer backup is not the cause — the cause is the flood," McIntyre said. "The cause is the fact that there was far more water in the Rivière des Prairies than what we're used to seeing."
"[Gad] is not somebody who wants a government handout, but he is in a situation of need, and all he wants is to be able to get back to work and be able to continue to provide for his family. So I feel that our government has, as of now — that we failed him."
With the future of his business and his home up in the air, Gad says he plans on appealing the government's decision to deny him financial assistance.
"I'm still waiting for the government — I still have hope," Gad Said.
"I can't believe that the government is going to leave me … in this bad situation."