Feds to consider flood infrastructure program

The federal government says it’s “prepared to discuss” a plan to help all provinces and territories build up their infrastructure to better withstand floods in the future.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday proposed discussions on a “mitigation strategy” which the government said could include measures either structural, such as flood dikes or non-structural, such as adoption of land use and zoning practices.

Mitigation activities, the government said, “should incorporate the measurement and assessment of the evolving risk environment” and may include “creation of comprehensive, proactive tools that help decide where to focus funding and efforts in risk reduction.”

Other examples the government listed included hazard mapping; setting up and enforcing building codes; flood plain mapping; raising of homes in flood-prone areas; public awareness programs; and insurance programs.

Harper’s announcement followed his visit to the Monteregie region of Quebec on Monday, where flooding has led to evacuations and created business and infrastructure headaches over 22 municipalities.

Armed Forces personnel have been working in the region since May 4, helping with evacuations, preparing sandbags, paying “assistance visits” to residents of the region and making “urgent repairs” to the Baie-des-Anglais dike at Henryville, protecting over 2,500 acres of farmland, the government noted.

Harper on Monday also put forth an offer of 50/50 cost-sharing with the Quebec government toward permanent flood mitigation measures — those that were taken specifically for this year’s flooding and weren’t otherwise eligible under federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA).

DFAA, administered by the federal public safety department, provides financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments for response and recovery from natural disasters, helping cover eligible costs “that exceed what (governments) could reasonably be expected to bear on their own.”

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