‘This is unacceptable,’ says mayor of Rigaud
Gruenwald wants provincial government to speed up pace for victims who need aid
Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald says he is exasperated by the slow pace of Quebec government help for residents who were affected by spring flooding.
“We have over 250 files open and we have (only) 15 files being processed,” Gruenwald said at a news conference on Wednesday.
“‘This is unacceptable at this stage.”
Located about 50 kilometres west of Montreal, Rigaud was one of the areas hardest hit by spring flooding that also inundated homes in Montreal and Gatineau.
With summer drawing to an end, Gruenwald said he is frustrated by his inability to obtain information from the Quebec government.
“Winter, for all practical purposes, is tomorrow and we still have a lot of people who have not returned to their homes,” he said.
“We are the local government and the Public Security Department does not give me the information I need to move forward and help those people.”
Gruenwald said Rigaud has set aside land where residents can temporarily set up mobile homes until they can return home. His municipal employees simply cannot meet the demand for help, he said.
“There are many of these (flood victims) who are at the end of their rope; they are stressed, emotional,” he said, adding that “as mayor, I do not know what to say to the citizens because I have no information.”
The mayor also dismissed the psychological support that’s been offered by the government.
“I’m tired of being told: we will improve psycho-social support. We need solutions to solve real problems and not “band-aids.”
In Quebec City, Public Safety Minister Martin Coiteux said he had been on a conference call with Gruenwald earlier in the day.
Coiteux gave assurances that his department was doing its utmost to deal with the more than 3,500 homes to be inspected, in 228 municipalities.
“In just a few weeks, we did a monumental job,” Coiteux said in a news conference, claiming that additional resources had been provided, and offices were open in all the most affected municipalities, including Rigaud.
Coiteux however questioned the willingness of disaster victims themselves to deal with their case.
“Citizens who have their inspection report, who know what work has to be done, must go to the municipality to apply for a building permit,” he said.
“The mayor of Rigaud wondered why all these people had not come to apply for a permit. I urge all citizens to go apply for a permit in their municipality,” Coiteux added.
Asked if he thought the delays were attributable to the victims, Coiteux backed off.
“I’m not telling you that our way of doing things cannot be improved. It must be. That is why we intend to hold a post-mortem,” Coiteux concluded.
Hundreds of homes were impacted by the overflowing Ottawa River in Rigaud, west of Montreal, during this spring’s devastating floods.