CALGARY – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says provincial estimates show “well over” $5 billion will be needed to rebuild infrastructure after severe flooding in June.
Talking on Calgary radio station CHQR, Redford said she has spoken with the prime minister about rebuilding costs.
Redford said Stephen Harper understands that the federal government will be responsible for covering part of the bill. She and Harper sat together last week at a flood-aid concert in Calgary.
“Our estimates right now is that we are looking at well over $5 billion in terms of infrastructure rebuild,” she told CHQR on Monday. “Part of that is going to be financed through the federal government and the prime minister has made a commitment to that, which we are grateful for, and part of it will come from provincial revenue.”
Estimates of the total cost of the unprecedented floods have been sketchy at best.
The province pledged an initial $1 billion in the first few days after the disaster hit and announced that previous plans to balance the budget were out the window. The federal government has always said that it will be there to help once the tab is in.
While speaking with reporters later Monday, Redford wasn’t clear about what exactly $5 billion estimate includes.
She stressed it was an evolving figure.
“It’s been eight weeks. It’s still early days,” she said.
On the radio, she repeated her warning that tough times are ahead as the province tries to fit such a large cost into its budget.
However, she told reporters while touring an Edmonton high school which is undergoing renovations, that infrastructure commitments in the province’s spring budget can still be met.
“We can continue to have an operating budget that balances and then we can invest in infrastructure by going to capital markets and ensuring the infrastructure that needs to be in place today for our communities can still be there,” she said.
She noted the province has saved money in other areas so far this year and there is approximately $2 billion to $3 billion in its savings account that can be used to cover flooding costs.
While flooding only affected communities in the southern part of the province, Redford told her radio audience she believes Alberta taxpayers understand that the costs must be borne by everyone.
“When you talk to people across the province, a lot of people who live in watersheds that could have also been impacted understand that this time it was High River and Calgary, but it could have just as easily been them.
“We don’t know where the next flood will strike — it could just as easily be Grande Prairie. It could be Fort McMurray. It could be Edmonton.”
(CHQR, The Canadian Press)