MONTREAL - The expansion of a centre for special needs children in Sainte-Genevieve is in jeopardy because the Quebec government redrew the area as a flood zone.

The Pat Roberts centre on Gouin Blvd. near St-Charles Blvd. offers services for children with intellectual disabilities. But it needs more space, according to Lyne Charlebois, executive director of the West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped. Her organization is raising $1.7 million to transform the facility into a modern multi-purpose building with room for more children.

"We saw this as a place for growth, and there's limited space in the West-Island for any community groups," she said.

In 2017, the centre nearly flooded in the Spring. Volunteers piled sandbags to protect it, but recently the Quebec government announced that the area had been rezoned as a flood zone--where construction would be forbidden.

Centre administrators were recently told that because they already applied for a construction permit, they may be allowed to go ahead with their project. Still, they fear rising floodwaters could become a persistent problem.

"Are we willing to take that risk? [That's] the question we are debating right now and looking at alternative options," Charlebois said.

The new project could be water-proofed, she added, but that would be expensive. The centre could also move, but affordable space is hard to find. 

With files from CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux