CRCAG Meeting with Flood Task Force and Flood Advisory Panel

August 23, 2013 by CRC Action Group in News

On August 22, founders of CRCAG met with the Flood Recovery Task Force and the Flood Advisory Panel.

There was a lot of new information on the table given the recent announcement by the Alberta Government of the Floodway Buy Out Program.

Floodway Buy-Out

  • CRCAG expressed our concerns regarding the checkboarding of communities, the impact of vacant lots in our communities, the intention of the government with regard to the lots after buyout, and the impact on homeowners in the Floodway who choose not to accept the buyout.
  • Mr. Corbould expressed that he is in favour of the policy and doesn’t consider it a risk to communities. It is the Government’s position that living in the Floodway is dangerous and poses a great risk to homeowners and first responders.
  • Properties that qualify for the buyout are ones that are designated as all floodways or where a portion of the dwelling is in the floodway. If your lot is both flood fringe and floodway and part of your home is in the floodway red zone, then our understanding is that you are eligible for a buyout, or can opt to be treated as flood fringe.
  • The Government has budgeted the buy-out to include removal of an existing home and re-landscaping the property to blend in with the existing community.  Property will be owned by the province and publicly      accessible land.
  • From the Province’s perspective, the buy-out policy does not mean there can never be a new development permit issued for land on the floodway.  For example, if a homeowner chooses not to take the buy-out, and at some future point wants to build a new home on the property, under the current plan the City could allow a development permit. The Province indicated that it had no intention of interfering with City By-Laws and Planning regulations. Properties eligible for the buy-out are properties where at least a portion of the dwelling footprint is included in the floodway.

Upstream Mitigation

  • The Province indicated that they are moving forward with seeking engineering design work for flood mitigation and prevention, and acknowledged that the focus is not on studies, as there are already plenty of existing studies.
  • Progress has been made and is continuing in terms of assessing ideas for flood mitigation and prevention.  The Province said it was premature to release specifics of that work, but all present were optimistic and encouraging as to what has occurred to date. It was everyone’s hope that within a few weeks they will be in a position to publicly disclose more information about upstream mitigation efforts.
  • Upstream mitigation will have a number of different facets, some of which can be implemented sooner than others.  Allan Markin was optimistic that potentially some steps will be able to occur before June 2014.
  • The mitigation plan also includes plans for immediate readiness and preparedness, i.e., sandbags, booms and berms.

Flood Mitigation Steps

  • CRCAG presented concerns voiced by our members that they are still uncertain whether using certain building materials, in particular drywall, batt insulation, untreated wood studs, carpet and non-metal doors, are      “acceptable” materials that for basement rebuilds, in order to comply with the flood mitigation steps.
  • Mr. Corbould was surprised that this was still a matter of confusion for homeowners, citing the STANDATA (Aug 15th) bulletin which states use of “disposable materials”.  In any event, they are reluctant to change the STANDATA bulletin, because they view it as quite broad, but agreed to update the “Q and A” section on the website Friday, August 23rd, to specifically list as example materials that are acceptable: drywall, batt insulation, untreated wood studs, carpet and non-metal doors.
  • We received an updated copy of the new FAQ this morning.  Question 31 will now read as follows:
  • What are the minimum individual flood mitigation measures?These measures are in place to help Albertans, including small businesses and registered not-for-profits, that own property in a flood fringe area minimize future damage. All of the measures relate to basements, where flood damage is most likely to occur.Homeowners and small businesses located in the flood fringe must follow      the minimum flood mitigation measures to be eligible for DRP funding. More      information is available in the Building Code Bulletin – STANDATA (August      15, 2013) – Update: Disaster Recovery Program Flood Mitigation Measures
  • The new measures include:
    • In order to minimize      moisture damage and or allow for easy disposal of flood-damaged materials,      owners are required to have moisture resistant flooring, and have the      choice to: leave the basement unfinished; use cleanable and moisture      resistant materials; or use disposable materials that will allow for easy      repair.This includes drywall, fibreglass, carpet, untreated studs and      non-metal doors. (We have asked for this to be changed to “fiberglass batt      insulation”.The well-being of Albertans can be protected by providing a safe way to      disconnect power in the event of a flood without having to access the      basement and risk standing in water. Another consideration is to supply      power to equipment safely to assist with repairs following a flood, such      as electric water pumps and fans. Options include but are not limited to:
    re-location of the main electrical panel so it is not located in the      basement; installing a disconnect switch that is weather proof and secure      on the outside of the building; and, installing a service panel in the      garage and feed the house as a subpanel.

    Seal openings around piping, wiring and conduits to prevent minimize water      seepage. To protect against sewer back-up, install backflow prevention      devices.”


  • CRCAG      presented the results from the CRCAG DRP Survey to those present, and      emphasized the concerns about timeliness of receipt of payments.
  • Although      the government had initially promised to provide an initial DRP payment      within 14 days of applying for relief, which largely did not occur,      apparently this was complicated by the insurance issues that arose.  That      is, the question of whether or not losses were or were not “insurable” has      made assessing claims more difficult.
  • John      Conrad, Executive Director with Alberta Emergency Management Agency was at      the meeting and was able to provide us with a background and update      regarding how AEMA has have handled this situation. It was quite a      compelling story and we asked if he would be able to provide it to us in      writing.  While the expansion of any program on such a large scale      will surely have hiccups we have been very pleased with the Province’s      continued engagement with us and our members as we collectively work      through details and potential policy changes. Mr. Conrad sent us this      summary this morning:“The DRP program on June 19, 2013 comprised of 4 government of Alberta      staff and a contracted service provider to conduct the administration of      34 Alberta DRPs.  The contracted service provider had 18 staff.        The DRP program is interfaced with provincial operations and response.  By      the third day of the response effort–life and limb, rescue etc across      southern Alberta we had opened the 2013 Flood DRP and begun a hiring      process that will see our public staff double in order to provide offices      in High River, Calgary and address the wider need of the largest DRP in      Canadian History.The contracted service provider expanded their administration/evaluation      staff from 18 to 170 to deal with the volume of applications from      Albertans stricken by the flooding.

    Prior to 2013 the operating parameter for the initial cheque to an      applicant was between 11 to 15 weeks.  Our government has promised      applicants in this DRP that the first cheque would be in their hands within      14 days.  We have taken both physical and administrative steps to      enable this.  There has proven to be a delay for those applicants      (roughly 75% of all applicants) because of the complicating factor of      insurance coverage for sewer back up.  Depending on one’s company,      one’s policy the amount of insurance coverage varies and this imposes a      delay in order to sort out what the initial DRP amount should be.  The      approach we take is your DRP will cover flooding above the six foot mark      in your home.

    Notwithstanding the insurance delay, last week we further streamlined the      initial cheque issuance problem by adopting an approach, with some risk,      to grant the first cheque based on losses above the basement, thereby      ignoring for now pulling apart the insurance versus public DRP coverage in      one’s home.  We are optimistic that this will contribute to speeding      up  the first cheque.

    Lastly we are starting to get our legs underneath us from the perspective      of enormity and rapid policy changes.  The sheer volume of applications      has stretched us wide and forced the apparatus of DRP to expand very      quickly.  Our new hires are joining our tiny but experienced team,      our office is open now in Calgary (803 Manning St N) and High River.”

Other Concerns

  • There      have been, and will continue to be, discussions between the provincial      government and the banks concerning financing of properties affected by      the flood.
  • Despite      rumors the CMHC has not made any policy changes based on the flood.
  • The      decision to rebuild the Elbow Park school is final.  It will be      rebuilt.  The only question remaining at this point is whether it      will be a partial or a total rebuild, and that decision is pending further      engineering reports.
  • We      were told that if your property is in neither the flood fringe nor the      flood way, and you suffered a loss from the flood, you are entitled to      apply for DRP funding and you are not required to implement flood      mitigation steps nor will you have a land title notification.  We      were advised that flood mitigation steps are for flood fringe properties      that use DRP funding only.
  • And      finally, CRCAG received our official documents. We are now an officially      registered Association.  We expect to call an inaugural Annual      General Meeting within the coming weeks.