The Yukon government has announced an assistance and support program for victims of the Klondike Valley flooding to compensate individuals for flood-related damages and to re-establish or maintain the viability of working farms and small businesses.
The 2023 Flood Recovery Funding Program, developed in response to flooding in the Klondike Valley, particularly in the Rock Creek, Henderson Corner and Dredge Pond subdivisions, will provide financial assistance to residents for uninsured damages to their property and possessions caused by the flooding.
Premier Ranj Pillai and Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn announced the financial support program at a press briefing on June 30.
Pillai said this spring, residents in the Klondike Valley experienced “just how unforgiving nature can be and every Yukoner was reminded that this part of the world that we love so much can be unrelenting, powerful and destructive.”
The Klondike River Valley has seen flooding in the recent past but nothing as severe as what occurred this year in terms of impacts on people and property, he said.
“Since the last time we gathered here, the Klondike floodwaters have receded and the emergency response phase has concluded. There are no people currently receiving support from Yukon emergency support services. We are now transitioning from the emergency response phase to the disaster recovery phase,” he said, noting that while the emergency response phase of this disaster lasted weeks, the recovery phase will likely be measured in months and years.
He added that it’s time to help friends, families and neighbours with disaster financial assistance.
“Klondike Valley residents, you have been hard at work, taking up the pieces and cleaning up from the significant damages experienced in May. The government is here to support you.”
There are three funding streams which cover housing, small business and agriculture to provide financial assistance to victims. The housing stream is administered by the Yukon Housing Corporation. The agriculture stream is administered by Energy, Mines and Resources. The small business stream is administered by Economic Development. Applicants can apply to multiple streams.
Pillai said while each program will be administered by a different department or corporation, the application will be made easy for applicants to access the support that they need.
As of June 30, applicants for compensation can complete the program information online at Yukon.ca. Application forms are available now at www.Yukon.ca/flood-funds. Forms will also be available at the Yukon Housing Corporation’s Dawson office starting July 4. The deadline for applications is Oct. 3.
This week, Pillai said teams will be on the ground in Dawson meeting with homeowners and supporting their steps in the recovery process. In addition, housing staff will be at the Yukon Housing Corporation office to take some questions and support the application process.
There will be open office hours there on July 5 and July 6 from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. and again during the week of July 10. Contact information for different funding streams can also be found online at Yukon.ca. Victims who have been impacted by the flooding can speak directly with program advisors about their application.
Mostyn said the loss of home and livelihood can be traumatizing for those experiencing it.
“We want to ensure that accessing this disaster assistance is as straightforward as possible. We know that most properties affected were residential with a small number of farms and businesses,” he said.
Mostyn said for homeowners, there are multiple supports available through the Yukon Housing Corporation. Eligible homeowners can receive up to $250,000 for compensation — for uninsured and insured losses by this year’s flood. This, he said, includes compensation for damages of essential possession and accommodation costs associated with being displaced.
“It is important to note that this program is all about restoring necessities of life and providing compensation for essential loss. For those already undertaking repairs and steps to protect your home, the key is to document everything and take lots of photos and save your invoices. The more the better in terms of supporting a thorough claim process,” he said, adding that zero interest loans for repairs for flood damage of secondary residences are also available.
These loans can also be used to support mitigation work. Farmers and small businesses can receive up to $500,000 for flood-related damage or loss. The funding information is available on https://yukon.ca/flood-funds.
Like all disaster financial assistance programs across Canada, there are conditions including the requirements that small businesses and farms have a gross revenue of at least $10,000. This ensures that the support aligns as closely as possible with the federal disaster assistance arrangement program, Mostyn said.
For the assistance program, the Yukon government said it will seek a cost-sharing arrangement with the federal government to partially reimburse for recovery investments.
Pillai said this funding and assistance program has been delivered with the sincere hopes that it assists those in need and it helps Klondike residents get back on their feet.
When asked of the total amount in damages incurred from the floods, Mostyn said they don’t have a number yet as they are still assessing damages in the Klondike.
“That’s why we are asking people to come forward with their receipts and evidence that we need to compensate them. Once we have that information, we will have a full knowledge of what the cost for the flood this year is.”
However, Pillai noted that over $1 million dollars has been set aside for the funding and support program. He noted that this is a dynamic situation and will depend on the number of applications received.
“We are hoping that this is not the dynamic that we will hit. We are well positioned to cover the costs. But compensation is going to be on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
On flood mitigation efforts going forward, Mostyn said the territory has been consulting experts from across Western Canada, including Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta who have come to the territory to share their experiences.
“People with experience in managing flooding have come to give us great education in flood mitigation and so we are getting first-hand experience and better at this over the last few years,” he said.
He explained that the government is now engaging in flood mapping across the territory and mapping out areas where they can see if the potential for flooding exists.
“We are going to be prioritizing the information we get from the flood mapping exercise to actually start working towards mitigating it in the future,” he said. “But it’s up to all of us to start preparing for flooding for all the weather events we are seeing.
Mostyn said the government is advising Yukoners to put together a 72-hour kit so they are prepared in the event of any emergency to respond on their own.
“We are asking people when they are traveling across the territory to prepare as though they are in the winter time and take sleeping gear, water and some food supplies so they have the resources to look after themselves in the event of an emergency.”
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