‘This is un­ac­cept­able,’ says mayor of Ri­gaud

Gru­en­wald wants pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to speed up pace for vic­tims who need aid

Montreal Gazette - - CITY -

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.

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