MRC Meeting Update – English Version

Dear Friends,
At the public consultation held on January 8, 2015 regarding project 13-14 amending the floodplain zone of North Hatley, the MRC agreed to post on its website the briefs presented. In fact, a written request must be submitted to obtain digital copies, while paper copies are available (with the necessary delays) for a fee.
We decided, therefore, to post these four highly informative briefs (a must read!). Please see links below. They were presented by:
1. Hugh Gwyn, PhD in glacial geology, researcher, professor and consultant in hydrogeology, who demonstrates, using scientific data, maps and historical pictures that the revised map proposed by the MRC is technically inadequate, shows a lack of scientific rigor and could give rise to serious urban planning mistakes.

Memoire_MRC_DoucetMemoire_MRC_Gwyn

2. Michael Grayson, a member of the Quebec Order of Engineers with a diverse background in urban and regional planning, who demonstrates through historical and scientific analysis, complete with pictures, that the flood zone allows the evacuation of excess water during periods of intense flooding. Back filling the site for development would eliminate this historic overflow safety valve.

Memoire_MRC_Grayson_

3. Nicole Benoit, PhD, professor and head of a graduate program at the University of Sherbrooke, who raises environmental, human and economic concerns surrounding a residential project in a flood zone, while underlining the importance for elected officials to adapt future policies in light of climate change.

Memoire_MRC_Benoit_Galipeau

4. René Doucet, attorney, who cites the Civil Protection Act (Chap.S-2.3) which aims to protect persons and property against disasters, including floods, and calls on the MRC to specify how it intends to implement this law. He examines the consequences of climate change and stresses the need to undertake a serious study of the risks associated with the construction of a housing complex in the flood zone.

Memoire_MRC_Doucet

You can help the cause by reading the briefs, sharing them with others and addressing your comments and questions directly to the Memphremagog MRC at info@mrcmemphremagog.com.
Due to the time frame given by the MRC for the submission of briefs by the public and the technical nature of the briefs, they were prepared in French only.

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Brian Merrett
7 years ago

Update on Proposed Remapping of North Hatley Flood Zone

• On 8 January 2015, the MRC de Memphrémagog held a public consultation on Draft Regulation 13-14, which in part proposed a new mapping of the flood zone in North Hatley based on a hydrological report and mapping prepared by Services EXP at the request of the Municipality of North Hatley. Before the deadline of 30 January, four briefs were submitted to the MRC by members of Action North Hatley (Michael Grayson, Hugh Gwyn, René Doucet, Nicole Benoît) and one by Everblue Massawippi. A separate list of 84 questions raised in the briefs was also presented, to which there has been no response.

• The MRC prepared a list of some 15 questions to be answered by Services EXP. Michael Grayson submitted to Hugues Ménard, MRC development coordinator, a commentary on the answers of Services EXP to the questions raised by the MRC. Dissatisfied with the response by Services EXP Donald Watt also submitted an evaluation of the answers to Hugues Ménard, with copies to the mayors on the Commission of the MRC studying Draft Regulation 13-14.

• René Doucet spoke with Jacques Demers, the prefect of the MRC, and with Hugues Ménard in reference to public safety concerns relating to probably flooding in the future.

• Donald Watt contacted two of the five mayors on the Commission of the MRC studying Draft Regulation 13-14. They expressed concern about a change in the mapping of the flood zone in North Hatley and about the fact that Services EXP had used incomplete data in its revision of the map. Donald Watt felt they did not fully understand the technical aspects of the maps.

• Michèle Gérin, General Manager of Everblue Massawippi, arranged a meeting with the Sherbrooke regional office of the Ministère du développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, one of the ministries that has a say in what, if anything, can be built in a flood zone and in how a flood zone must be managed. Michèle Gérin, Hugh Gwyn, and Donald Watt met with Lise Vaillancourt, directrice régionale adjointe Estrie, and Jean-François Cloutier, biologist. The discussion focussed on three points: the cartographic inaccuracies of the proposed mapping, the data used in the report by Services EXP, and the regulations concerning new construction in a flood zone. At the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that Mme Vaillancourt would request a thorough recalculation of the results in the report by Services EXP, using the complete data, and that Michèle Gérin would request a delay from the MRC for the adoption of the Schema d’aménagement.

• On 18 March 2015 Michèle Gérin corresponded with the MRC asking that discussion of Draft Regulation 13-14 be delayed until the results and methodology of the report by Services EXP could be further evaluated.

• At the meeting of the MRC held on 18 March 2015, it was decided to delay discussion of Draft Regulation 13-14. April 2 was set as the deadline for receiving the new evaluation of the report.

• Few days later, we learned that The Ministry’s expert had deposited his report. The methodology had been revised, but the results had not been recalculated as expected.

• It is likely that at its next meeting (15 April 2015) the MRC will accept the proposed mapping of the flood zone as presented in Draft Regulation 13-14, as the anomalies that have been identified fall within the +/- 10 cm margin of error accepted by the Ministère du développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques. If the Draft Regulation is adopted by the MRC, then the Municipality of North Hatley will be required to elaborate a Management Plan for the flood zone. This Plan will describe in detail new construction allowable in the zone, and this construction will be restricted by the necessity of allowing for the normal flow of floodwaters through the zone. Such allowance will necessarily impact on questions such as population density, public safety, and the liability of the Municipality for future flood damages.

• Paul St-Pierre met with Daniel Décarie, the town manager for North Hatley, on March 31. It seemed clear that Décarie is absolutely sold on developing the flood zone, though he wants – he says – to take environmental concerns, density and height of buildings into consideration. But, he says, the development will not be limited to 20 townhouses! Indeed, Décarie talked in terms of a development of between 40 and 50 million dollars, which would provide increased tax revenue for the town. However, no financial study has been carried out, or – it would seem – is likely to be carried out, to determine what additional expenses might offset expected increased revenues.

• The town had asked the MRC to take care of the Plan de gestion for the flood zone, and apparently it is more or less complete (the environmental studies were done last fall – and it has been determined that the zone has little environmental interest). Agreement in principle of the different ministries involved has been obtained. M. Décarie says that allowance for increased flooding due to climate change – an allowance of 25 cm above the maximum past height of flood waters – has been factored into the Plan de gestion.

• The Plan particulier d’urbanisme (PPU) is in the hands of Services EXP, who have been working on it for some time. The town has also been consulting its legal advisors, in an attempt to make the PPU as bulletproof as possible. M. Décarie mentioned that it is possible that help will be provided to people living near the flood zone to prevent flooding of their houses. He says that through the PPU they are hoping to bring Laliberté towards a less grandiose – but grandiose nevertheless – project.

No, things are not dead in the water. We are keeping contact with the different ministries involved and we are working on the remaining steps. The Plan d’urbanisme particulier (PPU) — new zoning regulations etc —  and the Plan de gestion (public safety measures in particular), still have to be analyzed.
We will keep in touch.

April 8th, 2015