Class action lawsuit proposed - Tensions high at flood meeting

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Added: Wed, 07/03/2019 - 7:19pm
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Peter L. Smith

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Over 300 people attended a ‘standing room only’ public information meeting at the St. Joseph Centre for Families and Seniors June 17, hosted by the municipality concerning the severe spring flooding.
Tensions were high, given the extent of the damage as well as the provincial government’s announcement that there will be a freeze on all permits for rebuilding and renovating homes in the 0-20 year flood zones, as well as those that experienced damage exceeding 50% of the home’s value in 2017 and 2019. Pontiac MNA André Fortin said a consultation on this decision will be held on July 4 Campbell’s Bay R.A. Hall at 3 pm and he expects a permanent decision will be made shortly after. Additionally, secondary residences and those owned by non-residents are ineligible for compensation.
MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller stressed the need for equal compensation for property owners, including non-residents and cottagers. “To start, more reservoirs should be built to better manage water levels,” she said. “We lost 4,000 people 10 years ago when the lumber mills closed. We can’t afford to lose ratepayers because of this flood. We need to find a way to help people stay here,” she emphasized.
Mayor Winston Sunstrum said the first step for flood victims is to register with Public Security Québec to open a file. Some residents are frustrated with a lack of response from Public Security as well as limited English service.
The municipality will be waving demolition and renovation permit fees for those affected by the flood. Flood waste is accepted free of charge for ratepayers in Chichester and L’Isle-aux-Allumettes at the transfer site, providing it is separated. Sheenboro ratepayers can use their own transfer site.
Servitech will be reassessing damaged homes and a credit will be issued on tax bills, butresidents were advised  this may take some time.
Representatives from Hydro Québec noted that special provisions will be implemented for residents having difficulty paying their bills and the system access charge will not be billed during periods when electrical service was interrupted. There will also be no fees to restore power.
Reverend Tim Moyle, whose cottage in Chichester sustained major damage, has been speaking with Colin Dubeau from the Nelligan, O’Brien, Payne law firm in Ottawa regarding a class action lawsuit. Dubeau expressed interest in the file, but suggested they wait until a detailed explanation is given for the flooding to
determine who is at fault. Moyle provided his email (frtimmoylepp@gmail.com) for those who wish to be included as claimants and he encouraged everyone to
document all damage in writing and take photos in case the lawsuit proceeds.
A Flood 2019 Petition group was created last month on social media and the group is currently circulating a petition demanding “a public inquiry by qualified individuals to determine the cause of the flooding”, a cause the MRC Pontiac supported during their last Council of Mayors meeting.