As waters recede in Rigaud, officials fear rising costs promoting “hard decisions”

As waters begin to recede in the city of Rigaud, located about 80 kilometres west of Montreal,  mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. is now fearing the rising cost of supporting the more than 200 flood victims.

On Thursday, Gruenwald — alongside other municipal authorities — was pleading for more financial aid from the provincial government.

They would like the Quebec government to fully take responsibility for flood relief compensation.

Currently, the province is covering 75 per cent of the total expenses. Municipalities are in charge of footing the remaining 25 per cent of the bill.

But that aid will no longer be available after May 31st, leaving cities responsible for 100 per cent of expenses they incur after that date.

Gruenwald claims the he and other municipalities affected by the historic 2019 flooding are not getting the same funding for flood victims as they did in 2017.

“We didn’t even know how much that cost. We didn’t even get any invoice that was automatically done,” Gruenwald said. “We assumed it would be the same in 2019.”

Since the state of emergency was launched in April, costs for food and shelter for flood victims in Rigaud have reached $1 million, according to Gruenwald.

Gruenwald says the $250,00 burden has “a big effect on a small town like Rigaud,” with an annual budget of $14 million.

Residents who are presently housed in nearby hotels will soon have to leave as tourist season is picking up in the city.

At the local Collège Bourget high school, 30 rooms will be available to house some of the flood victims who are not already staying with friends and family, Gruenwald said.

Gruenwald added that in 2017 he felt there was more “teamwork,” but this year, he feels left out.

“I have a feeling that we are always talking but I don’t get any answers,” Gruenwald said.

In a tweet on Friday, Quebec Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the government has always been “proactive since the start of the floods.”

She continued to say the provincial government has handed out $19 million to 4,000 open cases.

Guilbault said: “we continue to have constant contact with municipal authorities.”

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