Flood zone map goes too far, Quebec mayors, developers say

The Quebec government says it will review its proposed flood zone maps after complaints from municipalities and developers that they prevent construction on land that's at no risk of flooding.

Zibi, other condo projects would be subject to development moratorium

The red area highlights flood-risk areas in downtown Gatineau that would be part of the special intervention zone, where a moratorium on construction and rebuilding would be in effect. (Quebec Ministry of Environment and Climate Change)

The Quebec government says it will review its proposed flood zone maps after complaints from municipalities and developers that they prevent construction on land that's at no risk of flooding.

The maps illustrate areas at risk of flooding in a "special intervention zone," where both reconstruction and new construction are on hold.

In Fort-Coulonge, Que., west of Shawville, the mayor said the proposed map for their area would effectively "shut down the village."

The cartographer should've been fired on the spot.- Fort-Coulonge Mayor Gaston Allard

Mayor Gaston Allard said the map's 0-20-year flood zone includes 200 residences in the community of 1,500 people.

"It makes no sense," Allard said Thursday morning in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada's Les Matins d'ici.

He said 98 homes in the municipality were evacuated during this spring's flood, but not all of them were damaged.

"The cartographer should've been fired on the spot," he added.

Late Thursday, Quebec's Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing put up a statement on its website saying the flood zone maps will be adjusted "to better reflect reality."

'Valid' projects at risk

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said the proposed flood map includes sections that weren't affected by flooding in 2017 or 2019.

"They must act quickly because if the map stays as it is, or if it's not perfect, it will be very difficult to change it afterwards," Pedneaud-Jobin said.

"Some huge development projects that are absolutely valid far from the flooding zone would be stopped if they don't change."

The mayor said millions of dollars worth of projects could be delayed by the moratorium, and that the city has sent its own maps to improve the province's plan.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin attended a provincial consultation about the proposed flood zone map. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Zibi included in flood zone

Among those projects potentially affected is the Viu 2 condo development near the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge in downtown Hull.

The moratorium and the uncertainty around the flood maps could lead to summer construction delays, putting millions of dollars at risk, according to Charles Masse, vice-president of development and operations for the Heafy Group.

"The government has to correct it right now," Masse said.

"We're more than seven metres [up from the water] … if the Viu 1 or 2 is flooded I think all of the island of Hull will be flooded."

Charles Masse, vice-president of development and operations of the Heafy Group, he says the map could delay multi-million dollar projects such as Viu 2. (CBC)

Jeff Westeinde, president of Zibi, said the development on the Chaudière Falls is being built with a mind to a once-in-a-1,000-year flood.

However, it's still in the red zone of the map that would pause development.

Jeff Westeinde, president of Zibi, said he believes logic will prevail and the development will be removed from special intervention zone. (CBC)

"The line that they've proposed makes no sense," Westeinde said. "The line goes up and down by six and seven metres. Everyone knows that water flows at the same elevation. You don't get rising water by six or seven metres."

Government had to act, minister says

Minister for the Outaouais Mathieu Lacombe said the government had to move quickly to prevent a rush to get development permits or people beginning to build in areas that would be covered by the moratorium.

Pontiac Liberal MNA André Fortin wants the government to hold another round of consultation on the new maps.

"If it's not done properly, it's going to have a significant impact on the biggest investment that these people made in their lives," Fortin said.

The government is expected to finish its review in the coming weeks.

With files from Radio-Canada's Nathalie Tremblay, Jérôme Bergeron and Antoine Trépannier


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