ZIS map problems continue
Municipalities struggle to correct errors
MRC PONTIAC AND PONTIAC – Pontiac residents continue to experience problems related to the government’s Special Intervention Zone (ZIS) map, drafted after the 2019 floods.
The first version of the map, released in July 2019, placed a freeze on any renovation or construction in the affected areas until permanent flood zone maps are produced. Gaston Allard, mayor of Fort-Coulonge, says that revisions corrected many of the problems in the “grossly exaggerated” first version, but the latest version, the fourth, still has inaccuracies that could limit homeowners’ options.
Allard spoke about the issue during January’s Council of Mayors meeting (see page 3), where he said about 20 residences in his municipality are wrongly classified in the ZIS, including some who were originally included in the map but then incorrectly removed in subsequent versions.
“Homeowners aren’t eligible for the buy-out compensation of 90% of their home’s value if they are removed from the ZIS; they can only get a percentage of their damages, which might be advantageous for some but not others,” Allard stated. There are about four homeowners in Fort-Coulonge impacted by this change.
“If they want to demolish their home and relocate, will the MSP [Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec] cover the costs as they do for homes in the ZIS?” he questioned, emphasizing the number of instances where the rules are unclear.
Allard contacted the provincial government and said the minister will not allow residences to be added back in the ZIS. “This tells us they don’t really care if the map is accurate or not. Most files have been closed, but those remaining are in limbo right now,” he said, noting some of those wrongly-removed residences even have files open with the MSP.
Mansfield, Waltham and the Municipality of Pontiac said all of their requested changes were made in the final version of the map, but other municipalities like Chichester and L’Isle-aux-Allumettes are still struggling to have errors fixed, mostly with residences included in the ZIS when they shouldn’t be.
“About 99% of the changes we requested were made, but we still have a few that are in the ZIS that shouldn’t be. The Ministry has requested more proof to show these properties and residences weren’t flooded. They seem open to removals, but they firmly said they won’t be putting people back in the ZIS,” said Alicia Jones, director general of Chichester and L’Isle-aux-Allumettes.
“The ZIS is only a temporary map and the government is supposed to be coming out with a new, permanent, surveyed map by the end of 2020,” she added.
Isabelle Lajoie, municipal building inspector in Bristol and Clarendon, said most changes were made, but a handful of residences are still not within the ZIS when they should be.
MRC Pontiac mayors passed a resolution at the recent Council of Mayors meeting requesting that the government commit to re-opening the ZIS map file and allow further modifications.
Pontiac MNA André Fortin is also calling for a revised map. “Almost a year after the floods, the maps are still wrong in some places and the information flow between government and municipalities is still not up to par. The map should reflect the areas that flooded, nothing more, nothing less,” he said.
The Ministry did not respond in time to the Bulletin’s requests for clarification.