Rebuilding After the Alberta Floods: Flood Permit Grant Program

Topics: Alberta, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada
Diana Coulter | September 18, 2014

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More than a year after the Alberta floods, a Calgary senior feels hopeful for the first time as re-building finally begins on her home.(Photo credit: J. Keith Howie)

Janet Boyd says her renewed optimism is also due to the financial support that she’s receiving from a program jointly-funded by the Canadian Red Cross and The City of Calgary. Called the Flood Permit Grant Program, the initiative is being offered to residential property owners in Calgary who are facing financial challenges repairing, restoring or rebuilding their homes after the June 2013 Alberta floods.

Launched on May 1, 2014, the program covers the costs of new City permits (for building, electrical, plumbing etc.) required to rehabilitate properties. Permits to demolish and rebuild a home can be expensive. Up to $7,000 in permit assistance per property is available to eligible home owners.

Since the floods, Boyd has rented a place, while also struggling to pay mortgage and condominium fees for her Mission-area home. When the disaster occurred, she left with only a suitcase, expecting to be back in a few days. Instead, she lost everything when the Elbow River spilled its banks and filled her ground-floor, two-bedroom suite to within four inches of its ceiling.

“My furniture, my photos and mementoes that I had saved all my life, everything was destroyed,” Boyd recalled recently, picking through just two crates of silt-covered belongings that her son, Peter, managed to rescue.

“Oh! My mother’s bowl. That used to sit in the front hall,” she said, peering into the crates’ contents.  “No, I just can’t look or I’ll be sniffing.  Oh, I think that was Peter’s teddy bear. But it’s all coated in mud. It’s almost impossible to get that fine dirt off.”

As workers began framing new walls for her suite recently, Boyd explained that it has taken a year to navigate insurance and other challenges, so she only started the repairs in late August, more than a year after the flood.

“It was so overwhelming. I just didn’t know where to start, what to do next. That’s why I am so grateful to the Red Cross because mentally and financially, they have been so wonderful to me.”

The joint Flood Permit Grant program with The City of Calgary is welcome assistance, said Boyd, because about $1,500 in fees for her plumbing, electrical and building permits are being paid under the initiative.

“It’s been great. We went straight to the front of the line at city hall and had all her permit costs covered,” said Boyd’s son, Peter, who is helping his mother with the re-building process.

“Every dollar helps when you’re trying to manage on a budget,” agreed Janet, who prefers not to share her age but dubs herself, “a super senior.”

“Not everyone has huge savings and we are really very grateful to the City and Red Cross for helping out in this way,” she said.

The first step for Calgarians interested in applying for the permit program is to contact the Red Cross at 1-866-696-6484. The Red Cross will work with each applicant to discuss and assess their unique situation. While the program is not retroactive, the Red Cross and the City recognize many families and individuals are still struggling to meet their needs since the floods.