Members of the Downtown Business Association gathered last week to discuss next steps with the Boundary Flood Recovery Team, and members of city council. This following the recently denied proposal for downtown flood mitigation by the federal government.

Recovery Manager Graham Watt says he’s not certain why they were denied National Disaster Mitigation Program funding, but he has a theory:

“The NDMP was a 5 year program and it ends this fiscal year so we couldn’t claim money that goes past March 31st of next year, and that’s a real timeline risk, especially when there are projects where the engineering isn’t completed and the permits aren’t in place.”

He says that he hopes the city’s efforts to have a shovel-ready project to continue once funding is available, will get them going again with few delays.

Watt says the rejection hasn’t necessarily shifted their priorities:

“All along this recovery has been like snakes and ladders right? You try a hundred different things, some of them are going to move you along and some of them are going to lift you, and then sometimes you have to walk back and look at an alternative right? So we’ve seen this with housing, we’ve seen this with multiple things on the economic side.”

He adds that he heard concerns throughout the meeting regarding confidence, and fear of being able to invest, get insurance, and get loans downtown:

“It’s, I think, something that’s really top of mind here because we still see the shuttered windows, and it’s hurting a lot of people. When you walk around the residential neighbourhoods and see abandoned homes and see where people haven’t been able to pick up and move forward in their lives, that’s also what concerns me a lot.”

One suggestion from the room was to cover any boarded-up windows with more welcoming imagery. There was also discussion of a grand re-opening for Grand Forks should the Disaster Mitigation Adaptation Fund be accepted, to celebrate it’s recovery.