Project FAQ

Thank you for your patience as we explore solutions for affected property owners while considering what’s best for the community as a whole. Together, we can move boldly from flood recovery to community healing, resilience and pride. The following are answers to questions affected property owners are asking about the Land Acquisition Program and the Recovery to RESILIENCE campaign recently launched by the City. Please share any additional questions you have so we can continually update this Recovery to RESILIENCE webpage.

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Project & Funding Details

Q: Why do we need a flood-mitigation project?
The City is undertaking a flood mitigation project from 2019 to 2023 in response to catastrophic flooding of the Kettle, West Kettle, and Granby Rivers on May 10 and 11, 2018. This 1-in-200-year event, with peak flows of 1,300 cubic metres per second, caused extensive damage to riverbanks, flood works, community infrastructure, and residential and commercial properties in the North Ruckle, South Ruckle, Johnson Flats, and downtown areas. The damage was estimated at up to $50 million. May 2018 - Flood Impacts Map
Q: What is the flood resilience project?
Flood resilience includes:
  • City buyout of about 120 properties in the North Ruckle, South Ruckle, and Johnson Flats areas to allow for flood-protection projects;
  • Helping affected residents find and relocate to replacement homes in 2019-2020;
  • Building three new dikes and raising high-priority roads; and
  • Restoring riparian and floodplain areas and providing erosion protection on several kilometres of rural shoreline from 2020-2023.
The project map can be explored at https://arcg.is/1O9bXz. Flood Restoration Map
Q: What is the Recovery to RESILIENCE campaign?

Recovery to RESILIENCE is a community campaign designed to ensure that the communication and consultation needs of all project partners and community stakeholders are met in respectful, proactive, wand timely ways. Outreach and engagement tools include webpage updates, media releases, mailouts, and community meetings. A primary goal of the campaign is to foster the community healing needed for unity and prosperity into the future.

Q: Who is paying for the $55-million flood-recovery project?
Flood Recovery Revenue Sources Pie ChartThe City was successful in its bid for a grant from Infrastructure Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and the Province of BC. The federal government will provide just under $20 million, the provincial government pledged $28.9 million plus an additional $2.6 million to secure the downtown, and Grand Forks will contribute $3.5 million plus in-kind supports. An estimated $16 million will go toward property buyouts; the remainder is allocated for floodplain restoration, dikes, and stormwater infrastructure upgrades or replacements.
Q: What other options were considered besides buying out properties and restoring the floodplain?
With support from Don Dobson and other engineers and risk-reduction specialists, the City and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary reviewed overall constraints and costs associated with bypass channels, flood-storage dams, gravel removal, and protecting neighbourhoods with new dikes-in addition to flood-restoration options. Bypass channels, flood-storage dams, and gravel removal were either prohibitively costly or had too many other negative consequences, without providing the permanent reduction of risks associated with buying out properties. Building new dikes in residential areas was also not favoured because of the increased upstream and downstream risk and the potential that future floods would overtop the new dikes. Nor did the grant criteria favour options that transferred risks upstream or downstream.
Q: What is the Contribution Agreement, and where is it at?
The contribution agreement with senior governments outlines eligible expenses, project timelines, reporting and communication requirements, and payment submission requirements. The City has completed the contribution agreement with the Province and is finalizing the agreement with Infrastructure Canada.
Q: Will the project result in increased City taxes?
Some residents asked us to hold a referendum to raise taxes to pay for the difference between pre and post-flood property values. The City has not allocated the resources to undertake a referendum and, instead, is developing options to support affected property owners and contain and recover overall program costs. Two concerns have been raised about the impact on City taxes: the cost of the capital projects and the loss of tax-paying parcels.
  • The money provided by the City for the capital program is spread over five years, and in some cases defers other capital projects so there will be no increase in taxes.
  • The City’s objective is to maintain the community’s residential base and is exploring the feasibility and funding plan to service and develop lands, move houses, and partner on new developments.
Q: What else are you doing to reduce flood risk?
The City has completed a floodplain mapping and risk-management project. This will give us a new floodplain bylaw to guide and limit new development and redevelopment in the floodplain. As well, it will provide input to changes in our Official Community Plan Zoning Bylaw, and other City documents regulating land use, natural area protection, and stormwater management. This will help the City become even more resilient over time.

Land Acquisition & Property Owner Support

Q: Where is the City at regarding land acquisition from affected property owners?
Keystone Appraisals is leading the Land Acquisition Team (LAT), to develop the Land Acquisition Program for buyout policies, protocols, and schedules, and to develop agreements with property owners in the land-acquisition area. The team is working with the City and affected residents to provide appraisals and buyout agreements. This Land Acquisition Program began in December. The City is offering property owners within the land-acquisition area fair market value plus other compensation factors, and is exploring ways for affected property owners to access City land outside of the floodplain in a feasibility and funding plan being carried out by Keystone. A mix of single-family, multi-family, and townhouse-zoned vacant lots and locations are being considered by Keystone and City staff, with a focus on those with lower-cost servicing, higher return on investment, and proximity to downtown and key amenities. Land use and development decisions will need to be approved by Council before the parcels may be developed and serviced. Properties in rural Grand Forks and Greenwood that were included in the grant will be addressed separately by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and City of Greenwood.
Q: Was there an opportunity for property owners to have input into the buyout process?
Keystone conducted weekly clinics and organised meetings on issues relating to the buyout to get a better understanding of everyone’s circumstance and to ensure that appropriate processes and resources are in place to meet the community’s needs. Keystone’s project director has allocated one day per week to meet with property owners individually at a drop-in clinic in downtown Grand Forks.
Q: Do property owners have access to a independent professional support to help with property agreements?
The City and Keystone agree that professional assistance for affected property owners is an important part of the process and is built into the program.
Q: Do the property owners get to review the appraisal reports?
Keystone provides copies of the appraisal reports together with all ancillary documentation used to determine their opinion of value, including access to all the supporting professional analysis carried out by others. The program operates with full transparency.
Q: If I disagree with the appraisal or buyout offer, what can I do about it?
Keystone will design an appeal process within the program that allows property owners to challenge their appraisals and/or buyout prices.
Q: What if the property owner has capacity issues due to health or other needs and finds it difficult to understand the program?
Duty Counsel is being provided to assist vulnerable owners and determine if additional supports are needed.
Q: What about flood-affected property owners outside of the land-acquisition area? How are they being helped?
The City and Regional District continue to look at risk-reduction options for other areas including:
  • Funding to protect high-priority sites
  • Funding to help property owners protect their properties at site scale
  • Making infrastructure and shorelines more resilient to erosion and flood risks
  • Improving floodplain mapping and land-use bylaws
Additional long-term recovery tasks are being considered by the City and Regional District for further support.

Pre-Flood vs. Post-Flood Property Values

Q: Will the City hold a referendum to gauge residents’ support for borrowing the funding needed to bridge the gap between pre-flood and post-flood property values?
As determined by appraisals conducted in late 2018, pre-flood values for residential properties were assessed at $17.25 million, compared with $10.65 million for post-flood values, leaving a shortfall of $6.6 million, or $4.4 million after contingency values in the grant are included. Rather than hold a referendum, the City has not allocated the resources to undertake a referendum and, instead, is developing options to support affected property owners and contain and recover overall costs. Granting the resources and staff time needed to conduct such a referendum would be a decision for Council; a formal decision has not yet been made.
Q: Can the City use money earmarked for floodplain restoration and infrastructure upgrades to pay the difference between pre- and post-flood property values?
The City and its partners are firmly held by the funders to achieve the outcomes proposed in the grant application. Therefore, funding must be reserved for those purposes.
Q: How were flood-affected residents involved in discussions about City buyout of their properties?
Specific meetings for flood-affected property owners addressed pre-flood vs. post-flood property values and potential in-kind support from the city to narrow the gap between pre- and post-flood values. In July 2018, the City conducted a survey to determine affected property owners’ views about buyout options. Findings determined that owners supported buyout if they received adequate compensation. Subsequent community meetings explored owners’ views and concerns about public safety, health/wellness and unmet needs, housing availability, economic revitalization, environmental adaptation and resilience, public engagement, and equitable decision-making. The City conducted a follow-up survey in October to identify owners’ views about buyouts and the city’s in-kind support options. Survey results showed that 30% of respondents are staying in the Grand Forks, 57% are uncertain, and 10% have already left. Almost 30% have mortgages that are likely higher than their current land values. More than 80% said they are unwilling to rent if a unit was available and affordable. More specifically, the results showed: Housing Moving & Land Options
  • 37% of respondents would consider moving their homes; 43% were interested in salvaging parts of their homes or other improvements;
  • 10% of respondents were somewhat interested in leasing City-owned land with a long-term, low-cost agreement that pays for servicing over time, while most respondents (77%) did not favour this arrangement;
  • 13% of respondents were somewhat interested in partial purchase of City land, while 70% would not consider it; and
  • About 20% of respondents were somewhat to very interested in buying City land at market value, while 56% were somewhat to very much against the option.
Land Size & Location Options
  • Most respondents were more in favour of small or standard parcels instead of apartment, duplex, or townhouse options.
  • 33% want to be close to downtown; 13% want to be close to the rec centre.
Garden Size & Moving
  • 67% said that a large personal green space is important to them; 23% said they’d need help moving their gardens.

Project Benefits

Q: What are the project benefits for affected residential property owners
Residents affected by the buyout face many impacts from the process. The City has come to understand that residents will only benefit from reduced risk of being out of the floodplain if their compensation (cash and in-kind) is fair and does not diminish their net worth or quality of life. The City is also building partnerships that will support enhanced construction for better-performing homes.
Q: What are the project benefits for affected businesses and economic revitalization?
New dikes and stormwater drainage will provide flood protection for the downtown core, critical infrastructure such as power substations and sewer systems, and industrial lands. This will provide certainty for people investing in businesses, and eventually improve the insurability of properties, enabling our economic development initiatives to attract and retain a diverse and sustainable business community.
Q: What are the project benefits for the environment?
Floodplain and riparian restoration will provide more habitat for riparian and aquatic species, including species at risk. Restored floodplain areas and floodplain forests and wetlands will increase recharge of groundwater, reduce sediment pollution and provide needed habitat for fish, birds, and pollinators.
Q: What are the project benefits for the City of Grand Forks?
The City will have far fewer impacts from future severe flooding and its costly social, environmental, and economic impacts. The City can also better plan for development knowing that residential commercial areas are protected from future flooding. Restoration of the floodplain and riparian areas provides a durable, regenerating ‘natural asset’ that costs far less over time than hard infrastructure. Restored floodplain will provide room for the river to spread out and slow down during flooding, thereby reducing erosion and the danger of floodwaters inside and outside of new dikes.

Coordination & Communication

Q: Who is coordinating the project for the City?

Justin Dinsdale is the overall capital program manager; he will update the project plan and develop a detailed budget for review by Council in November. He will also hire the engineering consultants who will develop the detailed design for floodplain restoration and infrastructure upgrades and replacements.

The City’s Strategic Initiatives & Recovery Manager Graham Watt will coordinate land acquisition and community planning components of the flood recovery project. He is also the City’s project contact at 250-442-4159 or gwatt@grandforks.ca.

Q: Where can residents go to learn more about the Recovery to RESILIENCE project?

The Resilience Centre is located at 7261 Riverside Drive. For an appointment contact Graham Watt at 250-442-4159 or gwatt@grandforks.ca.

Q: How will the public be notified about project updates?

The public will be informed via regular webpage updates, news releases, mailouts, and community meetings.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Graham Watt
Strategic Initiatives & Flood Recovery Manager
gwatt@grandforks.ca
250-442-4159