CALGARY – Alberta will ask Ottawa to help pay for flood prevention projects in addition to the costs of the devastation caused by flooding that hit the province in June.
“The ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and so investing in mitigation now saves us all money down the road,” Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said Tuesday.
“If it’s a fact that Ottawa ends up paying 90 per cent of the costs of disaster recovery it would be very prudent for them to invest in some mitigation. So we’re going to continue to ask for some resources there as we go forward as we start to establish what the costs are going to be.”
The province does not have an estimate yet on how much mitigation projects will cost.
The government expects total flood damage will be around $5 billion.
Griffiths said Ottawa’s share of that would be up to $2.5 billion. The insurance industry is expected to cover another $1.7 billion.
Severe flooding in southern Alberta forced thousands of people from their homes and devastated the Town of High River. The City of Calgary and some other communities also suffered serious damage.
Griffiths repeated his earlier hope that Ottawa would advance Alberta $500 million this year to help defer costs.
He told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce that governments need to take action now on flood mitigation.
“Albertans don’t want another study indicating what we could do. We’ve got tons of studies, tons of information,” he said.
“We’ve gathered great information from experts on water movement. It’s time to put some of that into action. Engineer the results so people can see the detention dams going into place or the diversions — whatever is going to secure their community.”
Griffiths announced the province will host a flood mitigation forum in Calgary on Oct. 4.
Experts, community representatives and members of the public have been invited to discuss ideas on what to do to help prevent the next major flood.
Premier Alison Redford is to open the symposium.
Griffiths said it is important for governments to act while the flood disaster is still fresh in people’s minds.
“Right now people are very concerned about mitigation, but two years from now I doubt that it will be the most topical debate in the legislature.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada said the June floods already rank as the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. The previous version suggested mitigation was factored into flood cost estimate.