The Halifax regional council will officially ask the province to buy a group of flood-prone Bedford properties.
On Tuesday, council approved a motion from Bedford-Wentworth Coun. Tim Outhit to have Mayor Mike Savage write to Premier Tim Houston and ask for a provincial buyout program for Union Street properties damaged during July's extreme flooding.
Outhit said these homes, which are all in a flood plain, are ones he's visited many times over the years as they've been damaged again and again by water.
"These folks had seven feet of water in their basements, they were up to the second floor in some cases," Outhit said, describing what he and other politicians saw on Union Street in July.
Residents have already said they would likely take a buyout, which would be cheaper than attempts to build flood protection around the homes.
The basement of a home on Union Street in Bedford, N.S., is filled with water after torrential downpours flooded the area in July. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)
Outhit said when Housing Minister John Lohr was first asked about the move, he said Nova Scotia couldn't afford to lose any homes.
"To which the residents respond, 'yes, but we also can't afford to lose any family members, and these homes are not safe.' They are full of mould, mildew, flooding water, oil — I wouldn't let my dogs live in it, to be honest with you," Outhit said.
Earlier this month, Lohr said any request to buy the homes would have to come from the Halifax municipality.
There was discussion around the council table about adding more streets to the provincial request, including other Lower Sackville floodplain areas, but Outhit said the best chance of seeing movement would be to keep Union Street "as a start."
People stand on a hill surveying cars abandoned in floodwater in the Bedford Place Mall parking lot on July 22 after record-breaking rainfall. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)
The province took a similar step in Cape Breton when the former Liberal government offered to buy 18 homes in Sydney that were hit by the 2016 Thanksgiving Day flood.
Coun. Waye Mason said the Alberta government also spent millions to buy homes along the Elbow River in Calgary that were hit by the dramatic 2013 flood.
"They tore the houses down and just let them go back to a natural state along the river — I think that's what we're talking about here, I think that should happen," Mason said.
Council also asked for a staff report on using "managed retreat" as a way to reduce losses in the municipality due extreme weather caused by climate change.
Managed retreat is the planned relocation of people, buildings and infrastructure away from hazardous areas such as flood plains and coastlines.
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