Ten communities still recovering from November’s disastrous flooding in British Columbia are receiving $53.6 million from the provincial government to help rebuild infrastructure and get evacuees back into their homes.
Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen says the funding will help speed local recovery efforts, support critical planning and set up immediate temporary housing.
Record rainfall in November caused floods and washouts across southern British Columbia that displaced nearly 20,000 people and destroyed sections of major highways and other infrastructure.
Merritt and Princeton will receive direct grants to build temporary housing to bring residents back to their communities while permanent homes are rebuilt.
Other local governments receiving grants are Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Hope, Kent, Mission and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
All 10 will receive the money for initial recovery costs that aren’t funded by other assistance programs, allowing them to carry out small-scale capital projects, and restore and design infrastructure that is more resilient to climate change.
“The province is committed to ensuring local governments and their residents have access to critical resources they need to recover and rebuild,” Cullen said at a news conference Thursday.
Merritt Mayor Linda Brown says about 740 residents among the 7,000 who were initially evacuated from the city in the southern Interior have not been able to return home.
She says she believes the funding will build homes for about half of them, or about 200 structures, and help cover temporary housing for tradespeople working to renovate damaged homes.
The goal is to deliver the housing before the end of the summer, she says.
“The greatest news is that our residents will soon be able to come home,” Brown says.
“I am grateful, I am humbled, I am over-the-moon happy.”
The funding is in addition to $2.1 billion committed in B.C. Budget 2022 to help people recover and to better protect communities against future climate disasters, the government says.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2022.