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April 3, 2006
(Municipal Affairs)

The following statement was issued today by Jack Byrne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

I would like to take this opportunity today to inform honourable members of recent meetings I have held with two ministers of the federal government concerning the Stephenville flood.

As you know, on March 3 Minister Joan Burke and I announced our government�s plan to respond to the September 27 flooding that occurred in Stephenville; a terrible event that devastated the area and put hundreds of residents out of their homes. The cost of reacting to that event is estimated at $21 million. This is a substantial amount of taxpayer money, but this province has decided to make the investment because it is the right thing to do.

I acknowledge the assistance of the federal government through its Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement for cost-sharing repair and restoration costs. Discussions between provincial and federal governments continue in an effort to secure an agreement to cost-share the relocating of flood victims whose homes reside in what the Minister of Environment has designated as a flood control area. Our discussions with federal officials flow from a commitment the Right Honourable Stephen Harper made to Premier Danny Williams in a letter dated January 4, 2006.

On March 15 my deputy and I traveled to Ottawa where I had a lengthy meeting with the province�s federal cabinet Minister, Loyola Hearn. The minister was briefed fully on the situation and this government�s firm belief that the DFAA rules should be amended to allow cost-sharing the necessary relocation of those flood victims most seriously impacted by the flooding. Minister Hearn assured me he will pursue the matter further with his cabinet colleagues on our behalf.

On Friday March 31, I and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister John Ottenheimer met with the Honourable Michael Chong, federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen�s Privy Council. The meeting was cordial and productive. Minister Chong assures me he understands well our concerns with cost-sharing the relocation of flood victims in the Stephenville area. The minister plans to have a follow-up discussion with Minister Hearn in the very near future.

While discussions with the federal government continue my officials continue their work on the ground in Stephenville; getting on with the job of securing the flood area against future events while working to relocate the people with homes in the flood control area and restoring other homes outside the area that have sustained damages because of additional damages to the town�s water and sewer lines.

In closing, I commend the victims of the September 27 flooding in Stephenville and surrounding area for their patience and perseverance under very trying circumstances.

2006 04 03                                         1:55 p.m.

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