Flood maps: Accusations of preferential treatment given to CAQ ridings
There is yet more criticism of Quebec's new flood maps, with accusations the CAQ government is giving preferential treatment to ridings that support Francois Legault's party.
Houses on the province's new flood map that are inside the 'special intervention zone' are facing a moratorium on construction or reconstruction.
The first map for that wide-ranging zone was released in June, and was meant to identify areas that had been flooded in 2017 and 2019. It resulted in 813 municipalities being flagged, including ones that had never been flooded.
Earlier this month, Quebec made changes, pulling more than 30 municipalities from the list.
Data compiled by La Presse shows that nearly 80 per cent of the municipalities excluded from the new list are in CAQ ridings.
Some local mayors are accusing the government of giving preferential treatment to municipalities in ridings that voted CAQ blue.
"We often hear about false news. In this case, we're dealing with a false flood zone," said Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle. Houses in Beaconsfield that fall inside the zone did not experience and threat of flooding in 2017 or 2019.
Bourelle said he won't jump to conclusions, but said the changes to the map raise questions.
"I can tell you from what I can see, the '450' is getting a lot more sympathy than '514' in trying to deal with issues. So maybe the '514' is being ignored by the government," he said, adding that his letters to Municipal Affairs Minister Andree Laforest have been ignored.
Bourelle said his constituents are worried about rising insurance rates and plummeting property values.
"We're dealing with people's lives. We're dealing with their main assets. In many cases, their home is their main asset that they've gathered over the years and all of a sudden now we're playing with this and putting them under a real stress that perhaps the value of their asset is going to be diminished substantially. It's unfair," he said.
Marie-Claude Nichols, who serves as the Liberal MNA for Vaudreuil, is also concerned. None of the cities in her riding have been removed from the map, while others in neighbouring CAQ ridings have been.
"All the municipalities, like Notre-Dame-de-l'Ile-Perrot, they are very angry about the new flood map that the government sent us. It's the third version of the map, and for Vaudreuil, it's not good for us," she said.
Nichols said she is willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt.
"I believe in good faith, but I think that they have to keep working with all the ridings all across Quebec," she said.
In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the municipal affairs minister denied any partisan planning behind the flood maps.
"It is totally false to suggest these kinds of decisions were made based on citizens' votes. These kinds of generalizations must be denounced," the statement read.
The government is giving municipalities until Aug. 19 to contest their inclusion on the map.