The Alberta government plans to prohibit building in so-called floodways – designated areas close to rivers – in order to mitigate damages from future floods.
Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, charged with leading Alberta’s flood recovery effort, said the Progressive Conservatives will introduce legislation this fall forcing municipalities to block development in the most flood-prone zones.
“It simply doesn’t make sense to continue building new developments in areas where there’s a severe risk of flood and you put people’s lives and families’ lives at risk,” Mr. Griffiths told a small breakfast crowd at Calgary’s Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. “The legislation, just for the record, used to say municipalities should not approve development in the floodways.
“Now it will say something like they cannot, will not and shall not approve development in the floodways. Period.”
Existing developments and homeowners will not be kicked off floodways, but will not be eligible for relief in the next flood. They have been offered a buyout at the tax-assessed value, rather than market value, of their homes.
Mr. Griffiths said Ottawa, which is on the hook for much of the cost, is about to advance $500-million to the province.
Federal Minister Steve Blaney, who is in charge of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, “indicated he was going to go do the best he could to get an advance of $500-million,” Mr. Griffiths said.
Alberta expects Ottawa to spend between $2-billion to $2.5-billion to fix up the province, Mr. Griffiths said. He plans to ask for extra cash so Alberta can build more infrastructure to prevent future floods.
“The federal government knows they have a crucial role to play in helping pay for the costs of this disaster and they are committed to do so.”
Floods, caused by rains hitting the mountain snowpack, swept southern Alberta starting June 20. Alison Redford’s government expects it will take $5-billion in damage to fix damaged roads, bridges, homes and other problems tied to the floods.
Insurance companies have already paid about $1.7-billion tied to the June floods, and that figure could rise. Alberta, as of the end of June, shelled out $148-million to rebuild infrastructure and help victims. The provincial government has earmarked $704-million for flood relief.
Alberta, Mr. Griffiths said, is sending an advance of $63-million to Calgary, the largest city hit by the flood.