Objection to Bill 27

November 24, 2013 by CRC Action Group in News


Response to Bill 27: “Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act”

Bill 27 introduced into the Alberta Legislature October 28th is entitled the “Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act”.  CRCAG has serious concerns with Bill 27 becoming law, specifically proposals dealing with disentitlement to Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) assistance and caveats on property rights of landowners in Alberta.

Ever since the Alberta Government announced its policy in mid-July to attach strings to DRP funding – strings that included caveating property owners land titles  – many flood impacted Albertans have lived in fear of cashing a cheque from the DRP.  That fear persists, in spite of the desperate need of funds to repair and rebuild homes.   When last surveyed, the respondents to a CRCAG survey indicated that nearly 70% were not confident that if they used DRP funding, which resulted in a caveat placed on their title, they would know what steps would be needed to be taken to remove the caveat.  CRCAG members continue to be reluctant to accept and use DRP funding, on account of the uncertainty around the impact to their land title, and the corresponding consequences to their land value.

As residents of flood impacted neighbourhoods well understand, there are two prongs to mitigating losses in the event of a flood.  The first is to avoid damage to homes and properties altogether and the second is to have appropriate measures in place to mitigate financial loss for unavoidable damage.  The first prong of mitigation – avoiding damage – can only be achieved by upstream flood mitigation measures.  Although we are encouraged with the relatively fast pace at which the Alberta Government is presently taking in considering upstream flood mitigation infrastructure, currently nothing is in place and flood damage remains an annual threat.  The second prong of mitigation – protection against financial loss – unfortunately is out of reach for most Albertans as well, since flood insurance is not available in Canada, and sewer back-up coverage can be limited or unavailable when concurrent with a flood event.  The unfortunate consequence of the present status for Albertans is that the DRP is a critical lifeline and the availability of DRP is now threatened by Government policy and Bill 27.

CRCAG is also concerned that the Bill gives the Province broad sweeping powers with regards to future development in the floodway. Clarity as to what the regulations will be forms a key part of the decision making process floodway homeowners must face.

CRCAG has voiced an objection to Bill 27 by way of letter to Premier Redford, dated November 12, 2013, and reproduced below.  If you have objections to this Bill, consider contacting your MLA immediately, as the bill is already at the third and final reading.

Link to Bill 27:  http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=027

CRCAG Letter to Premier Redford:

November 12, 2013



Dear Premier Redford,


On behalf of our members, we are writing to express our strong objection to Bill 27: Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act, in particular:

  1. Amendments to the Emergency Management Act that could be used to:
  • deny Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) assistance to future flood victims,
  • allow the Province to register a caveat on a homeowner’s land title indicating the homeowner is not entitled to DRP assistance in the event of future overland flooding; and
  1. Amendments to the Municipal Government Act to provide broad regulation making power to the Alberta Government to specify the types of developments that are authorized in a floodway.


Albertans remain very vulnerable to the devastating effects of flooding, particularly because:

  1. governments have not implemented upstream mitigation measures to protect our communities, such as those recommended recently by the Flood Mitigation Advisory Panel or those recommended in several past studies, and
  2. flood insurance is not available to Canadian homeowners, and we note we are the only G8 nation that does not have a National Flood Insurance program.


Government DRP assistance is intended to help those who cannot help themselves; it is a Canadian hallmark of which we are properly proud. Unfortunately, under present circumstances, Alberta homeowners have no practical means of helping themselves in dealing with flooding – either through physical protection of their home, or financial protection through flood insurance.  As such, DRP assistance is of considerable importance with respect to flooding.


We are encouraged by the early progress made by the Alberta Government regarding upstream flood mitigation, as we strongly believe such measures are the only effective means of protecting life and property. However, we understand that it may be several years before all mitigation projects can be completed, and until then flooding remains an annual danger.


On the issue of flood insurance, we understand the Federal Government and the insurance industry have initiated exploratory discussions, but we have little information as to the level of Alberta or Federal Government support for developing a system of flood insurance, nor any idea as to when such a system might be in place.


Accordingly, with no infrastructure in place to protect our homes, nor any ability for homeowners to protect themselves financially through flood insurance, Albertans are left to live in fear and uncertainty. Our only line of protection is DRP funding, and now that is being threatened.


We believe that mitigating loss from flooding is a shared responsibility between Government and homeowners. Governments need to do their share primarily through appropriate infrastructure construction and ensuring that affordable flood insurance is available. Homeowners have the responsibility to minimize the financial risk to themselves and other taxpayers by purchasing adequate flood insurance, if available. However, homeowners cannot do their part until Governments do theirs. Accordingly, it is unacceptable to propose that future DRP assistance be denied to homeowners before the Government has provided a framework under which Albertans can take appropriate measures to mitigate their financial loss in the event of future flooding.


A major difficulty we have with Bill 27, is that as enabling legislation that provides for Cabinet to make regulations “respecting the filing and removal of caveats against titles to land in a flood fringe or floodway”, it does not include any criteria or guidance as to the circumstances under which a caveat can be filed or removed.  The Government has communicated a policy to disentitle DRP assistance to homeowner’s that have not met certain flood mitigation standards, and to entitle DRP assistance for future flooding if those standards are met.  However, many of our members remain genuinely concerned about whether to accept DRP assistance, however badly needed, without clarity and certainty around the impact on future DRP entitlement, and the corresponding and significant impact a disentitlement could have to their property value.  Bill 27 does nothing to alleviate these concerns regarding the availability of future assistance because:

  1. there are no regulations as yet which define the required mitigation steps, and
  2. regulations may be changed by this or any future Government without the public scrutiny afforded when passing a Statute in the Legislative Assembly.


With respect to placing caveats on land titles, as stated above we object to the need in the first place, which arises from the denial of future DRP assistance.  Even accepting the concept of disentitlement of future DRP (which we do not), the use of a caveat is an inappropriate use of our land titles system.  Caveats are intended to register a financial interest in a property, and the Province has none, as clearly disentitlement of future DRP assistance cannot be elevated to the status of an interest in land. Placing caveats on title can have many unintended consequences as banks, insurance companies and others with legitimate financial interests in a homeowner’s property may react in a manner adverse to the homeowner’s interest.


Should the situation ever arise where a particular property is not entitled to future DRP assistance for flood damage, there already exist techniques for managing disclosure of material facts during a land transfer.  If the Province believes these are insufficient to properly protect consumer interests, disclosure legislation or a publicly available register of disentitled properties are other options.   In any event, a caveat on land title is the wrong approach.


Our concerns with respect to the regulation making power that would be conveyed on the Provincial Government under the amendments to the Municipal Government Act, relate to the potential impact on future development of lands in the floodway in century-old neighbourhoods with existing residential homes.  We understand there are more than 50 properties in Calgary that are eligible for a floodway buyout, and therefore at least 50 properties in Calgary that have residential homes developed in the floodway.  Those property owners are expected to express an interest in the buy-out program by no later than November 30th, yet must make this decision in a vacuum in terms of the future regulations that may impact the ability to rebuild on their existing property.


We very much appreciate the receptiveness shown to date by the Government of Alberta in responding to the views of Albertans in dealing with what has been a traumatic event. We respectfully request that Bill 27 be set aside until we are able to collectively implement a holistic solution that includes the cornerstones of upstream mitigation and homeowner flood insurance.


Respectfully yours,




Emma May, President

Tony Morris, Vice President

Dr. Mike Bregazzi, Board Member

Wade Felesky, Board Member

Brenda Leeds Binder, Board Member



Doug Griffiths, Minister of Municipal Affairs

Rick McIver, Minister of Transportation

Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Rick Fraser, Associate Minister of Regional Recovery and Reconstruction

Kyle Fawcett, Associate Minister of Recovery and Reconstruction

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Calgary

Mayor Craig Snodgrass, High River

Danielle Smith, Wildrose Party Leader

Dr. Raj Sherman, Liberal Party Leader

Brian Mason, NDP Party Leader

Greg Clark, Alberta Party Leader