Nov 21 the Boundary Flood Recovery Team had another public Update meeting at GFSS. This time it was in the open space adjacent to the quad.
About 75 people were there in total. Mayor Taylor and Director Russell were present.
Was there news?
Of course there was news.
Was it what we wanted to hear?
Not all of it, no.
But knowing some progress is being made and work is being done is better than not knowing.
Some of the Asks have borne fruit – Darren Pratt introduced 5 newly hired case workers. It’s the result of an ask that went in months ago . . . part of their job will be to go out and get updates from all of you affected by the flood.
The fruit of other Asks is bitter-sweet: The Federal government’s strictures prevent them from funding the raising of individual houses. They also restrict any funds going towards buyouts to ‘current value’ only. Do not take that as the final and complete word on the buyouts because the Province and the City also have to chip in (though the city’s portion might be more along the lines of here’s some land and maybe some help moving your house if that’s possible). We don’t know what the Province’s stand on this is yet. Plus a professional assessment firm has been hired to do new assessments on all the flood affected properties. When it comes to deciding which value to use there will be hopefully a choice for them in there. So don’t give up hope.
That last throws a different complexion on the buyout plan. And changes or challenges to one part of the plans for the future will possibly affect other plans.
A major point of contention is the way government does things. IF the government has had to deal with an issue before they may have developed a plan so that when it comes up in the future mechanisms are in place and everyone knows what to do. And what resources they can draw upon to execute the plan.
If Grand Forks had been in New Brunswick we’d be much further along in some ways because flooding is a problem they have experience with. Unfortunately we are in BC which has no plans for how to deal with post flood recovery and the multiple and inter-related issues facing those who have to lead recovery efforts. And in order for the province to release funds and resources they apparently need Data. Lots and lots of Data. And they take their time . . . but then they aren’t the ones facing a cold winter in a camper. Or running their business out of their homes. Or making do with their Child Allowance cheques. While making payments on mortgages and insurance for buildings they are not occupying.
And when it comes to any help for the businesses affected by this – the province cannot give money directly to businesses. They can, and are, giving money to fund positions such as Economic Development Officer and Events Coordinator / Marketing person. While this may buoy the spirits of those in the economic development community it really ticks off those businesses that have lost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars due to being evacuated from their locations. But those are the rules and regs the provincial officials have to operate under.
Graham Watt, the recovery manager, described it as akin to the game of Snakes and Ladders. You make progress along a path in the plan and get to a point where you run into a wrinkle or block you didn’t know was there. And that sets you back a stage or two as you try to find another way to achieve your goal.
All the while the weather gets colder, people’s resources and spirits get more depleted. And Victoria asks for more data . . .