Public opposition rights government wrong

The Alberta government has decided that placing caveats on the land titles of properties that they have designated as floodways

The Alberta government has decided that placing caveats on the land titles of properties that they have designated as floodways may not be the best way to deal with the aftermath of this spring’s flooding.

It should have been an easy and quick decision. It wasn’t.

Our constituency office in Drumheller has been contacted by many Drumheller residents and leaders that felt, quite correctly, that the floodway/flood fringe maps of Drumheller were wrong. They were outdated and did not reflect the wise investment the town had made in community level flood mitigation in the last decade. They also voiced their concerns that not all of the factors were considered when the government announced that it would slap an equity killing caveat on half the land titles in town. This rash designation would have been a major blow to the future of the town and to the asset value of the homes in the valley.

Not only would the title designations severely impact the property values of the near 50 per cent of Drumheller residences in the government’s “floodway,” it would also completely disrupt the town’s tax assessment system by shifting the tax load to the other half of town. You see the non-floodway half of the town would see their property taxes go up by 50 per cent to make up for the diminished assessment in floodway portion. You have to give the government some credit; it’s not every day that you can come up with a policy idea that hurts everyone in a town.

As your elected representative for Drumheller-Stettler, I took the step of contacting the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Doug Griffiths and the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Diana McQueen, to have this important issue addressed in a timely fashion. Along with the letter sent to Minister Griffiths, I included letters from affected constituents to emphasize just how concerned the homeowners in Drumheller were about this situation.

To date, no reply from either minister has been received. My thought was they obviously did not share the same sense of urgency that the people who contacted my office felt about this issue.

Then on Friday, the junior minister for municipal affairs announced it had reversed its plans to put “location notices” on properties that have been designated floodway or flood fringes. This was consistent with the advice I had sent both ministers. After weeks of ignoring the concerns of municipal officials, the requests of the opposition, and plain common sense, this government quietly backed down. For Drumheller, this is tremendous news.

I want to thank everyone who contacted my office and pushed on this issue. I want to thank the letter-writers who gave me the ammunition to push on this issue. Your efforts and those of many other Albertans got the government to listen.

I am pleased to be your representative, representing your views. Working together we can get this government to listen, if not during the policy development phase, then at least in the policy climb-down phase. Working together, we can get your voices heard, if not always acknowledged.

In spite of this continued resistance by the Alberta government to work with Opposition MLAs, I will continue to advocate and will assure every constituent’s voice is heard.

If you have any questions, please contact my office.

— From The Legislature