UPDATED Nov 20 – Added PDF of handout to end of article
As a result of the flood of 2018 a new set of floodplain maps needed to be created (the previous ones had been made in the early 90s). This is important for various reasons: Safety, Zoning Bylaws, City and Land Use Planning to name a few.
Previous mapping efforts employed the capabilities of the field at that time – and the results reflected that. New technologies such as LIDAR have improved the field significantly since then enabling a more precise data set. Coupled with advances in computer systems this has made the results of simulation modeling of water flow, and where it goes, much better.
Urban Systems has been a major participant in this process and on Monday Nov 18 two of their team, Senior Planner Joel Short and Professional Engineer Cameron Gatey, came out to present the results and discuss the ramifications to the town and its land-use-related laws.
In addition Recovery Manager Graham Watt, Mayor Taylor, some council members and city staff were present to help explain and answer questions.
About 50 people attended the event in the GFSS auditorium.
On Nov 15, 2019 the property owners facing Buy-outs, as a result of the 2018 flood, held a demonstration on the bridge from downtown to their area, Ruckle. After the demo at the bridge they proceeded down to city hall where the Mayor and Recovery Manager met with them.
The Mayor talked with some of the demonstrators and then the Recovery Manager, Graham Watt, took over. They talked outside in front of the cenotaph for a half hour and then adjourned to the indoors where they could sit and be warm.
One of the concerns they express is the way they have been cast as ‘victims’ in all of this. It is felt that victim sends the wrong message – one of people with their hands out looking for help from the rest of us.
They do not see themselves that way, rather they are property owners engaged in a negotiation with the City about real estate transactions.
That they are NOT asking for a hand-out but only that they be dealt with fairly and responsibly under the laws that govern this situation. Laws that have legal considerations on estimating what they should be paid for what they are giving up. Because they are giving up a lot so the rest of the city can be safer. And the choice to do that is out of their hands.
They have many concerns about the process, how it has gone (or not) so far and how it will progress.
Their lives are in a sort of limbo while they wait for forces outside their control to decide what will happen to them. As any mental health professional will tell you that is a recipe for problems.
I’ve got video of the demo on the bridge and the conversation outside. It was felt that the inside conversation should be kept within the group – they’re beginning to experience some negative responses from citizens not in the group facing buyouts.
In the city’s mitigation FAQ page they answer the question of how the valuation of buy-out properties will be done saying that the province and federal governments will only go with post flood value.
” … the best it could get from the provincial and federal funding streams was the post flood value “
under the question: We were told that we would get the pre-flood value for our house, what happened?
When I look at the graph showing the timelines for various projects funded by this announcement I see that property acquisition begins in 2019 and stretches into 2020. I have a question about which valuation will actually be used in determining buyout value when the negotiation with the property owner actually happens.
A lot of those properties in North Ruckle have seen a drop into the four figure category. I mean that some properties that were worth 50 to 150 thousand dollars are now worth less than $10,000. That is pretty sad but not unexpected.
But not all of them have seen that same drop and some are still worth, on paper by BC assessment, over $50,000 or $100,000. Some of these property owners have actually spent money out of their own pocket, or the money that they got from the insurance companies (if they got any help from the insurance companies), to get their properties back in shape. Remember that doing this was one of the things suggested to them by the city and others when it was clear this process would take a couple of years.
My worry is that once this process gets rolling the assessments for those properties will also drop into the basement because all of the properties around them are essentially being devalued to Zero. The valuations that BC Assessments uses are what they calculate the values are as of Oct 31 the year before they issue your new year’s assessed value.
So if your property is still worth $100,000 in the year of 2019 and come 2020 you find that your property value has now plummeted – what is that going to do to your buy-out?
If you have to wait until 2020 before they negotiate a price
on your buy-out what will your property value be then?
IF this is the case (and to be clear I am NOT saying this is the way it is – only asking a question) is there any way to either freeze the valuation used in the buyout to the 2019 value OR push the properties which still have a good value to earlier in the list to prevent the property owners from encountering yet more pain and suffering due to purely bureaucratic process?
The city is supposed to try and do the best they can on behalf of their tax paying residents . . . I think some resolution on this question is in order. If only to put the minds of those who have already lost so much and have no clear path into the future at rest.
UPDATED to point out that this is a question about how it works and not a statement about how it works.