Premier Alison Redford’s government opened the fall sitting of the Alberta legislature by introducing a bill to mitigate damage from floods like the one that ravaged parts of southern Alberta this summer.
“We know that we will get flooded again,” Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths told reporters after introducing the bill in the legislature Monday.
“The June disaster shows us that we must change how we develop in flood-risk areas.”
The proposed amendments will require municipalities to restrict new development in floodways and allow redevelopment only if it is the replacement of a similar structure.
Drumheller and Fort McMurray will be exempt from the rules because they are already built on floodways and have already taken suitable prevention measures.
Heavy flooding in and around Calgary in June displaced tens of thousands and cost billions of dollars in property damage.
Earlier Monday, Ms. Redford outlined her plans and priorities for the sitting in a speech to Edmonton’s Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Redford promised to continue building roads, schools and hospitals to meet the demand of a province growing by 100,000 newcomers a year.
There will also be legislation to make changes to lane designations on roads to reduce traffic congestion.
A new environment-protection act will be implemented to monitor air, land, and water.
Ms. Redford promised a new organ and tissue registry and new rules to try to keep children from taking up smoking.
In her speech, Ms. Redford also renewed hostilities with the Official Opposition.
Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith has criticized Ms. Redford for breaking her promise to balance the budget and instead bring in a spending document this year that will rack up $17-billion in debt by 2016 to pay for infrastructure.
The Wildrose Party has promised a more ordered, prioritized infrastructure plan.
Ms. Redford, in her chamber speech, dismissed that as a “build nothing” approach, adding that she expects the Wildrose to verbally attack her and her family in the coming sitting.
When asked by reporters about the criticisms, Ms. Redford replied, “I didn’t talk about their character. They’ve talked about mine.”
During Question Period, Ms. Smith mocked Ms. Redford’s public statements playing down the debt, reminding the House that this month Ms. Redford said debt is not debt, but hope.
Ms. Smith then replaced the word “debt” with “hope” to mimic Ms. Redford’s statements and slogans.
“Alberta does not have hope, and we will not incur hope!” thundered Ms. Smith as her caucus members laughed and thumped their desks.
“Then there’s this: ‘We cannot come out of the current fiscal situation with hope!’
“And in a PC campaign ad [it read] ‘Albertans want to know that we’re not going to have hope!’
“So if debt is hope,” Ms. Smith said to Ms. Redford, “when can we once again expect to be hope-free?”
Ms. Redford told the House she stands by her debt-is-hope statement.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said it’s a “slap in the face” to voters for the Premier to not deliver a session-opening speech in the legislature but instead at a chamber of commerce.