'We want to have some answers': Quebec mayors press provincial government for flood compensation

Montreal-area mayors and deputy mayors say they feel optimistic about Quebec's flood compensation plan after meeting with Quebec Public Security Minster Geneviève Guilbault.

Mayors of several municipalities met with Quebec's public security minister today

Residents clean up in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Que., northwest of Montreal, on Thursday, May 2, 2019. While the floodwaters are subsiding, municipalities say they still need help from the provincial and federal governments. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Montreal-area mayors and deputy mayors say they feel optimistic about Quebec's flood compensation plan after meeting with Quebec Public Security Minster Geneviève Guilbault Thursday afternoon.

The civic leaders of nine communities in the municipal region of Vaudreuil-Soulange were complaining that it was uncertain if the province would be assuming all costs for homes that have been flooded out. 

"When the lights of the media are out, the politicians seem to forget what they said before. We want to be sure they don't forget," Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon told CBC Montreal's Homerun Thursday. 

Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon is one of the civic leaders who met with Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault on Thursday. (CBC)

The meeting comes in the wake of an open letter he penned with eight other mayors accusing provincial and federal governments of neglecting the needs of municipalities hit hard by floods.

The mayors of Pointe Fortune, Rigaud, L'Île-Cadieux, Terrasse-Vaudreuil, L'Île-Perrot, Hudson, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Pointe-Fortune, Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac and Pincourt signed on to the letter. 

In the letter, the mayors say the public security minister's response has been inconsistent, differing from municipality to municipality. Some cities have varying information, while others are left in the dark.

They say so far there has been no public consultation for the residents who were flooded out, and say only one recovery office was set up to deal with the nine municipalities in the region. 

Give the new compensation program a chance, says Guilbault

Despite the myriad of concerns raised by the mayors, Quebec's security minister came out of the meeting with a smile on her face. 

"This was a very positive meeting we just had," said Guilbault.

"We were here to listen to the mayors and I assured them they were heard."

While most of the mayors or deputy mayors at the meeting felt they were heard by the provincial government, there are still concerns about housing compensation for flood victims. 

"We didn't totally agree on the percentage that was reimbursed, but I think overall, we understood each other," said Guilbault.

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault is asking Quebec mayors to give her government's flood compensation plan a chance, saying it will compensate people faster and sooner. (Radio-Canada)

In Rigaud, where the floodwaters are slowly receding, the mayor is feeling the pressure.

Unlike in previous years, the damages for flood compensation are being covered by the municipalities, who can reclaim the funds from the provincial government.

"Right now I have no choice but to accept what she said," Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr told CBC News.

Gruenwald added he has scheduled a call with Guilbault every Tuesday, and that he remains optimistic about the future — with reservations.

"If my citizens start falling between the cracks, and I have no housing one morning, I'm not going to be a happy camper." 

With files from Sudha Krishnan