The Member of Parliament representing Grand Forks says the city’s treatment by the federal government when it comes to flood mitigation money is completely unacceptable.
South Okanagan-West Kootenay New Democrat Richard Cannings has asked for a meeting with the feds to figure out why the city is not getting the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) cash it was promised.
The DMAF program, signed in 2019 with the Province of British Columbia and the City of Grand Forks, promised nearly $20 million from Ottawa. City councilman Chris Moslin says the city has received less than $2 million despite sending invoices for roughly $5 million.
Cannings says the federal government’s “rules and yardsticks seem to be changed around” and small communities can “ill afford” not to be paid what’s owing.
He says the city is tired of being told one and then another.
“They were promised almost $20 million in funding by the federal government. I was there when the promise was made and signed off on and now it looks like the government is backtracking on some of that and I think that’s completely unacceptable,” Cannings said in an interview with Vista Radio.
Cannings says the situation could also be the result of bad timing as the city’s letter to the federal government was received just as Parliament rose for the summer.
A second “sterner” letter, this time written by Cannings, was sent Thursday (Aug. 4) and he is “hoping to escalate this” and is “not sure what the delay is.” He wants a meeting soon but believes it will be “more likely in September.”
The MP suggests the government may want to create a new program to replace DMAF that is “much better funded and a broader mandate.” While Moslin warned other B.C. communities like Merritt and Princeton not to get into bed with the feds, Cannings says there are little alternatives for disaster funding than DMAF.
“I just hope we can clear this up quickly. Grand Forks has really been suffering for four years from all sort of the impacts of that flood, both financial and just in terms of upset in the community – residents that were forced to move out, residents that couldn’t afford to find new homes. It’s just been a very painful process and I think the federal government should be working hard to ease that pain and make sure that the community can move ahead.”
Federal Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc declined a request to be interviewed on DMAF and the City of Grand Forks.