Flood Mitigation Measures A Positive First Step But Much More Is Needed
Posted on September 26, 2014 by Katherine Taylor
Today’s announcement about upstream flood mitigation in Springbank is a good first step, but still does not address longstanding issues with fully protecting Calgary from future floods, the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) or the Floodway Buyout program, says Alberta Party leader and Calgary Elbow candidate Greg Clark.
"The Springbank reservoir is really only one of three measures we know is required to protect downtown Calgary and other flood hit communities from future disasters," said Clark. "McLean Creek and the Glenmoir reservoir diversion are necessary to provide the same level of flood protection that is being implemented for High River."
Clark points out that the PC government has already made unfulfilled promises on the DPR, and continues to underestimate the resources needed to resolve outstanding claims
“People are still hurting more than a year after the flood,” said Clark. “With more than 2,600 people and businesses still waiting for their DRP claims to be resolved, 12 new staffers is just not sufficient. This repeat promise from the PC government leaves roughly 144 files per staffer to resolve by the end of the year."
Clark also criticized inaction on the flawed Floodway Buyout program.
“Only 77 of the 250 homeowners eligible for buyouts accepted the government’s offer,” said Clark. “This says that people want to stay in these communities. Buying out only a few of the homes in the floodway doesn’t achieve the objective of clearing a path for future floodwaters, and is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.
“To date over $81 million has been spent on floodway buyouts, an average of over $1 million per home. The only impact has been to hollow out communities but this has done nothing to prevent future flood damage.”
“To make things worse, unlike DRP payments, floodway buyouts are not eligible for federal reimbursement. This means Alberta taxpayers are on the hook for the entire amount.”
Clark said an Alberta Party government would update flood maps once mitigation measures are in place then re-sell buyout properties that were previously in the floodway.
“We need to make our communities whole again,” said Clark. “At the end of the day over $100 million will have been wasted on floodway buyouts. This money could have been used to pay for flood mitigation that would have protected entire communities.”
Clark, who co-founded the Calgary River Communities Action Group in response to the 2013 floods, has worked alongside his neighbours rebuilding their community. As leader of the Alberta Party he has spearheaded the creation of the comprehensive Alberta Party Flood Recovery and Prevention Framework.