Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Alberta Party: Combination of new flood maps, development rules could spike property taxes outside flood zones

Alberta Party Caucus - Alberta’s approach to flood mapping could vastly increase the number of homes and businesses considered at-risk throughout the province, significantly reducing home and business property values and shifting the tax burden to non-flood areas, says Alberta Party leader Greg Clark.

“A letter from the Minster of Environment and Parks confirms that structures like dams and reservoirs are not considered in flood mapping,” said Clark. “This makes little sense and will add thousands of business and residential properties to flood zones across the province because most rivers’ flows are restricted by a series of existing and planned dams. The maps should reflect the anticipated flows including current and planned infrastructure.”

Clark said that new development rules under consideration by Municipal Affairs could further impact residential and business property values in flood zones, shifting the tax burden to residents in non-flood areas.

“If the new Floodway Development Regulation significantly restricts renovations or redevelopment it will decimate property values,” said Clark. “This means homeowners outside of flood zones will see their property taxes skyrocket. We saw the impact on suburban businesses from the decline in value of downtown Calgary. That will pale in comparison to the tax increases for homeowners outside the flood zone.”

Clark called on the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Environment and Parks to agree on reasonable mapping protocols, and to make protecting property values a priority.

“Over 100 years ago we decided to build our towns and cities near rivers,” said Clark. “Individuals and businesses built in these areas in good faith, to the benefit of their communities and governments. We can’t turn back the clock. It would be foolish to decimate property values more than a century later.

“Safety matters, and no one will argue against reasonable development rules like moving utilities above grade for new builds and during a major renovation,” said Clark. “And I agree net-new development in floodways should be banned, but existing business and homeowners should continue to be able to update their properties and preserve property values.”

Clark said the answer is to build significant flood mitigation.

“Berms, storm sewer upgrades and new flood mitigation projects like the Springbank Dry Dam are critical to ensure Albertans are kept safe and property values are maintained,” said Clark.

“Flood policy should to be aligned. The province must continue its investment in mitigation and ensure that development policy reflects the millions in flood prevention investments already made.”

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