No flood relief for cottage owners in Renfrew County

Dozens of cottage owners in Renfrew County affected by flooding west of Ottawa are finding out they won't qualify for government flood relief money to repair their damaged properties.

Provincial disaster relief program only covers primary residences

Claudette Lockwood's riverfront cottage on Towey Lane remained surrounded by nearly a metre of water Monday. Of the more than 800 properties in Renfrew County damaged by flooding, more than half are secondary residences, and as such will not be eligible for disaster relief money from the province. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC News)

Dozens of cottage owners in Renfrew County affected by flooding west of Ottawa are finding out they won't qualify for government flood relief money to repair their damaged properties. 

About 120 people packed the Horton Recreation Centre Monday night for the first public information session about the spring flood.

Of the 165 properties affected in Horton Township, officials said 96 homes are classified as cottages, and as such will not be eligible for flood relief money. Across Renfrew County more than 800 property owners have reported flood damage, and more than half of those properties — 436 at last count — are seasonal residences.

Claudette Lockwood owns a summer retreat in Renfew County that is now filled with nearly one metre of water. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC News)
Claudette Lockwood's humble summer retreat is one of the most seriously damaged properties. She said she poured her savings into the cottage, which is still surrounded by nearly a metre of water.

"It's unfair. When you get to be older you want to be comfortable and this is what you spend your money for and invest it like I have. It's kind of a retirement thing," Lockwood said.

"And it's all gone."

Fund covers primary residences only

For Lockwood and the rest of the affected cottage owners in the area, there will be no provincial help even though they pay property tax on their cottages.

In order to qualify for funds under Ontario's Disaster Recovery Assistance Program, the damaged property must be a primary residence and not a secondary one, such as a cottage. 

Bob Kingsbury, the mayor of Horton Township, said he thinks that's wrong.   

"These are the same people that are paying some of the highest taxes in our townships and yet when it comes to disaster relief, there's nothing there for them," he said.

"Their tax money went into the coffers, same as the primary residents, yet when they need help they're out of luck."

Water warnings came late, residents say

Renfrew County residents also wanted to know why they weren't given more warning about rising water levels so they could have been better prepared.

Kingsley said he would have liked more information from the various authorities that monitor water levels in the region. 

Horton Township and several others are now looking into whether more timely access to water flow data could have been provided.
The mayor of Horton Township said he wants to find out if more timely access to information about rising water levels could have helped residents better prepare for the historic flood. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC News)


  • A previous version of this story stated 165 properties in Renfrew County were affected by the flood, including 69 cottages. In fact 96 of those properties were cottages, and the figures refer only to Horton Township, not the entire county.
    May 16, 2017 4:10 PM ET