Sydney flood victims agree homes should be torn down

Seventeen property owners in a neighbourhood inundated in the Thanksgiving Day flood have agreed their houses should be demolished and the area designated a no-build zone.

Area to be declared a no-build zone after 17 property owners agree houses should be demolished

Two weeks after a neighbourhood in central Sydney suffered historic flooding, 17 homeowners have agreed their houses should be torn down. (Vaughan Merchant/Canadian Press)

Seventeen property owners in a Sydney neighbourhood inundated in Cape Breton's Thanksgiving Day flood have agreed their houses should be demolished.

The homeowners, who have no occupancy orders, met with municipal and provincial officials Monday to relay their decision.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality wanted consensus on whether a section of the flooded area should be declared a no-build zone. Following the private meeting, Mayor Cecil Clarke said all agreed a relocation plan should move ahead.

'This was so horrific'

Tom Penny and his 90-year-old mother had to be evacuated by canoe from their Hillview Street home.

"Most of us have agreed," he said, "that this was so horrific that we would never want to go through it again. Nor should anybody else, and it would have to become a no-build zone."

Anna Mae Muise of nearby Royal Avenue said was a hard decision to make, even though there was agreement.

"It's extremely distressing because I think no matter how good everybody is to us, I'm going to end up taking a big financial hit on this," she said.  

"If I have enough to pay off my mortgage and get out of this, I'll still not have enough to get another home unless they do something really, really extraordinary."

Compensation not settled

There are up to another 20 homes that could also be demolished, but some may come off the list if inspectors determine they can be thoroughly cleaned up.

In terms of the 17, the next step is to meet later this week with provincial and federal governments to figure out how best to accommodate people and move forward, said the mayor. 

If demolition proceeds, the affected homes will be assessed at fair market value, pre-flood.

Clarke could not say whether owners will be compensated if their homes are valued above the $200,000 financial assistance limit set by the province.

"That's part of the discussion governments will have based on fair market value," he said. 

There are 13 more homes with no occupancy orders across the municipality. They will be looked at on a case-by-case basis, Clarke said.

CBRM is still waiting for a report on the Southend Community Centre, which is in the centre of the flood zone. It will also likely have to be demolished. 

As well, a nearby elementary school and a church are also still being examined.