Few answers came from May’s first sitting of the Legislative Assembly on Thursday as to when assessments of damaged homes in flood-affected communities will be complete.
Paulie Chinna, minister of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), said her department is doing an internal assessment of damages in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River, and is awaiting clear information on the number of affected homes.
“Right now, we’re looking at Jean Marie and Fort Simpson waiting to get back the affected number of houses,” Chinna said.
In response to questions from Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson, Chinna said that after assessments the department will look to see what programming they can offer residents.
Once a more complete assessment is done, the department will apply for federal disaster assistance program.
Before then, Chinna said they must also assess Fort Good Hope.
When asked about specific financial support to residents, the minister said only that they are working on that internally.
Fame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly persistently asked if residents, Indigenous governments or community governments can perform their own assessments of damage.
Chinna said that MACA is hiring its own team and they are “northern-based.”
“MACA has hired an assessor that will be starting early next week,” she said.
“We’ll be going into Jean Marie, and we’ll be going into Fort Simpson. They will be working in collaboration with the leadership in those specific communities.”
But whether or not residents can be reimbursed for their own work, or if they can challenge the assessment or get a second opinion, Minister Chinna said she did not have that information.
“I don’t have that level of detail,” Chinna said.
The lack of clarity has also left homeowners confused on what their next steps should be.
Chinna said MACA staff is returning to Yellowknife before heading North to look at the damage in Fort Good Hope and her department is working internally to find answers to the MLAs’ questions.