Category Archives: Rebuilding Renewal

City Council Oct 9, 2018

Oct 9, 2018 was a long day for council.
It began with a Committee Of The Whole meeting starting at 9AM. That meeting didn’t look very involved in the agenda but ended up taking a lot longer when it actually took place, 2 hours and 49 minutes.
They had an in-camera meeting after that.
In the evening they had one of the shortest meetings on record for this council – less than 11 minutes!
And this will be the last meeting of this council before the voting for the next council happens. (not the very last meeting of this council though)

Where was all the discussion in the Committee Of The Whole meeting?

Regional Topics with Area D, the CAO & Recovery Manager report,

 

The Regular Meeting. Less than 11 minutes. ’nuff said. (normally an item has to get at least 90 seconds of discussion to get a slice in the pie. That left only two slices so I shortened it to 30 seconds)


The meetings from beginning to end.

 

REGIONAL TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION - WITH AREA D Monthly Highlight Reports CAO and Recovery Manager Bylaw 2054 ??? Smoke And Vape Free Places Bylaw revitalization_tax_exemption QUESTION PERIOD FROM THE PUBLIC COUNCIL REPORTS RDKB REPORT Capital Project Funding from Reserves Temporary Use Permit Application 7255 Riverside Drive for a Church Bylaw 2051 - 2019 Revenue Anticipation Borrowing QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC AND THE MEDIA

Flood Recovery Meetings of Early August Expose Hard Choices

This week (Aug 7-10) there were a number of meetings held by the Flood Recovery Team.

Just as the receding of flood waters reveals the rocks and debris from the disaster these post-flood-data-gathering meetings are exposing the hard choices the city needs to make for its future safety and existence.

First the residents of each affected area got meetings that were closed to everyone but them. The two meetings with North and South Ruckle residents happened at GFSS, the meeting with downtown businesses was in the Gazette office. Where the meting with Johnson Flats’ residents took place I do not know.

In previous meetings there was a sense of unanswered questions and amorphous plans. These new meetings laid out the harsh realities.

In some meetings the people were given options to consider. In the meeting about Downtown there was only one ‘option’.

For those who have options to consider they are facing either a buyout / relocation OR raising their house (if possible).

And it doesn’t sound like they will have individual choice on this: the city is seeking the public’s input to make that choice. They need to choose an option that serves the needs of the community at large as well as reflects the will of majority of those in that area. So if the majority in an area goes for a buyout they will likely all get a buyout . . . and not everyone will be onside with that.

In the North Ruckle meeting  the engineer, Dobson, first showed a slide with all the houses marked with either a Green or red mark. Green meant that house didn’t get flooded and would not need to be raised (if that option was considered). Red meant that house would need to be raised. All the houses but one were Red. But a new dike would need a setback from the river of up to 20 meters in places and that single house would then be either in the way or in the river. So no houses in North Ruckle would escape the ‘choice’ . . . look at the screen grab below to see the tentative location of the dike they are proposing.

And what might that choice be? Well  they held a ‘straw poll’ of the 60+ people in the room with a show of hands of those who wanted a buyout. A large majority of them had their hands in the air . . . I hear that the South Ruckle meeting showed a similar sentiment.

Naturally not everyone wants to leave their place – for many it’s been a good home in a  community they cherish. But in the final decision which will be made by council it will be the will of the majority that will hold sway. And as councilor Thompson alluded to 70 minutes into the Questions part of the public meeting the city has powers they’d rather not use to deal with those who are recalcitrant.

When you hear them talk relocation what they mean is a Buy-out and then relocation to somewhere within the city. That will be a major issue to overcome for our town.

It will require using what available land there may be to create new housing opportunities for these displaced residents to move into. Which means working out how to stimulate construction of housing that isn’t prime because many of those who will be on the relocate list will not be shopping in the prime real estate listings because they won’t be able to afford ‘prime’.

Why? Many of them are ‘retired’ people and wouldn’t likely qualify for a mortgage of any serious size. And while various city councilors are saying that they are suggesting that the buyout’s be done at  fair ‘before the flood’ market value it will be up to people who don’t live here (meaning Victoria) to decide how those buyouts are calculated. So don’t be too surprised if the numbers fall somewhere between the before and after flood valuations. And that will mean those affected won’t be financially able to afford much of anything like they lost.

This affects all of us who live and pay taxes here in Grand Forks. Every tax payer who leaves town or becomes a renter stops being an input on the tax rolls of the city. The major protective works will cost 10’s of millions of dollars. Those will hopefully be revenue neutral with funding support from the province and feds. But the fixed costs of the city, paying for the upkeep of its infrastructure and assets takes money. That money comes from taxes and utility rates. Those might both see a significant drop in numbers of paying customers. That means for those of us left the rates and taxes will go up. And if the fiscal picture gets grim there might be hard choices to make down the line regarding those assets and services the city has and provides.

For Downtown the only option is Protective Works.

Part of that means a Dike, And while the actual location of that Dike hasn’t been decided just yet there is the distinct possibility that a number of dwellings along the river will be either destroyed or become cut-off and unusable. You can see that in the screen grab below. Some of that dike might entail raising the street and that becomes part of the dike.

The other protective work that has been proposed, for downtown, is ground water mitigation. While overland flood has been a relatively infrequent occurrence downtown the same cannot be said for ground water rising and wetting basements and crawl spaces – that happens more often than not come spring time, So they’re finally going to put in a system to try and control that.

In addition they will be working on gates and pumping to keep the storm drain system from becoming a means of ingress of the river flood waters into downtown streets and basements.

The choice of which options will be made relatively quickly – within the next month. The answers are needed to calculate how much money the City will be asking of the Province. You’re going to hear the term ‘Ask’ a number of times in the meeting. Plainly speaking every major project that needs to be done will be cost too much for the City or Regional District to pay for on its own. So each becomes an Ask of a funding body outside the area – the Province or Feds.

On Wednesday they held a public meeting in the auditorium at GFSS and publicly discussed most of what they had shown in the closed meetings. And faced questions. You can watch that below.

I’ve broken the meeting into 3 parts: Introduction, Options and Questions.

 

 

Flood Recovery Public Meeting July 11, 2018

The first of many public meetings on the Recovery was held at the GFSS auditorium on Wednesday July 11, 2018

These meetings are to inform the public about what has been happening, what is planned and also to get feedback from the public.  A for instance was the appearance of Rockwool and an announcement of their offer of up to 20 bags of insulation free to those needing to rebuild. More info on that at www.rockwool.com/grandforks.

These are also the place to ask questions and put rumours to rest.
Such as this rumour: Is there an $80 million dollar cash infusion so the city can buy out affected home owners? No there is not.
or this question: Will those having to rebuild have to pay fees to the city for things such as licenses and re-connection of power? No the planners don’t want to add to your pain.

The full meeting can be watched below. IF time permits I’ll try to add  better links to parts of the meeting so you don’t have to wade though the whole thing to find the question or info you need to know. Like I do with city council pie. (but today I have shift to work so time does not permit this)

 

Joint Press Release by Liberal and NDP Constituency Associations

On June 15, 2018 a Joint Press Release was issued by the presidents of the local Liberal and NDP constituency associations.

We the undersigned, as the Presidents representing our respective party’s Constituency Association for Boundary Similkameen (BC NDP and BC Liberal) wish to present the following statement to our community.

We met today to discuss the response to the disastrous flood that has devastated our community and with a focus on the discussion taking place in its aftermath.

We both wish to express in the strongest possible terms to our parties’ supporters and all citizens in this region to engage in discussion in a compassionate and balanced manner. We understand that emotions are justifiably running high and that this can lead to conflict as people desperately seek the answers and assistance that they require.

We both agree that in particular, those who were not directly impacted by the flood have a duty to maintain a calm and supportive tone and to seek and share accurate information instead of speculation and rumours.

We believe strongly that people experiencing the most dire need will be best served and comforted by this approach to discussion. Both of us are working tirelessly with our respective parties, within our respective volunteer positions, and with our friends and neighbours in the community.

We are committed to making use of our positions to advocate relentlessly on behalf of meeting the extraordinary need our community is currently experiencing.

We both believe that this community can and will come together in the weeks and months ahead, just as we did during the worst of the active flood. We have no doubt that Grand Forks will bounce back stronger than ever.

Respectfully
Everett Baker President, BC Liberal Boundary Similkameen Riding Association
Ian Mitchell President, Boundary Similkameen BC NDP Constituency Association