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Impending demolition of flood damaged houses has Roxboro residents on edge
Published Friday, January 29, 2016 4:33PM MST
Last Updated Friday, January 29, 2016 7:27PM MST
The 17 damaged houses the provincial government purchased, at an estimated cost of $51 million, after the flood of 2013 will soon face the wrecking ball leaving holes in existing neighbourhoods.
On Friday, government officials toured the media through the once upscale home at 1334 Riverdale Avenue Southwest on the banks of the Elbow River in the community of Roxboro. The building is now filled with mould and visitors are required to wear helmets and respirators.
“Based on an analysis of an engineering report, it was determined that this structure was not safe for future habitation,” said Leonid Oukrainski, a Ministry of Infrastructure representative.
Danielle Larivee, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, is disappointed with the decisions made under the previous government.
“The truth is this buyout program left us with a mess. It was a disaster,” said Larivee. “This patchwork is not the best outcome for the government or for the residents. We’re just picking up the pieces and making the best possible choices given what we were left with.”
Neighbours of the home say they did not want the building to sit vacant nor did they want an empty lot in their community.
“I’m worried the properties are going to go to weeds,” said Cathy Steedman, a Roxboro resident.
Some, including neighbourTerry Fishman, believe the province’s flood buyouts were wasteful spending and the government should sell off the properties.
“Especially in these times of a touch economic situation it’s a complete waste of money,” said Fishman.
The provincial government maintains the property on Riverdale Ave. cannot be resold until flood mitigation upstream, including a possible berm, is completed.
“They really, really want to see people build here again and, to be honest, so do I,” said Larivee. “We will not make that decision until we know for sure that the mitigation measures will protect those people in the future.”
The demolition of the 17 homes is scheduled to be completed by August. According to the government, it could take up to four years before a decision is made on whether homes can be built on the properties.
A public meeting on the future of provincially owned lots is scheduled for Friday night at the River Park Church (3818 14A St SW). The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m.
With files from CTV's Kevin Green