The next big one

Should we be concerned, or should we just mark the recent Southern Alberta floods down as a 100-year event?
How we look on this flood will determine whether any decisive action is taken to mitigate damage from future floods.
Conservatives have a hard time acknowledging climate change because it’s seen as “anti-business”.  But if we don’t believe human activities affect our climate negatively, is there not a point where we acknowledge even without humans, weather patterns change naturally?  Most people can agree that our land was once covered completely in ice.
Those who studied the Southern Alberta flood of 2005, which was then labeled as a 100-year flood event, believed there were social and economic reasons to be more prepared for the next big flood.
The Committee, led by then-Conservative MLA, and local High River farmer, George Groeneveld, made 18 recommendations.  The report was finished in 2006 and sat on a shelf collecting dust until Premier Allison Redford pulled it out, six years after its completion.
If only four of the 18 recommendations had been enacted in 2006, this current Alberta tragedy, for families, businesses and taxpayers, would have not been so bad.
It was recommended that the government do a flood mapping of the province. They were also strongly urged to stop the sale of Crown land on flood plains to developers. Another recommendation was to mandate titles on “flood plain lands” note it so that buyers were informed and wouldn’t get a nasty surprise at a later date.
In that report there were 54 municipalities identified as having a potential for catastrophic floods.  Back then, authors of the report recommended that a mere $300 million be spent in those identified areas to mitigate damages from future floods.
Today the province has committed $1 billion for cleanup.  The Federal government will have to cough up some of their budget dollars as well.  This will be a hard exercise for two governments that philosophical can’t get their heads around climate change, natural or man-made.
But the reality of the flood of 2013 is that it was “anti-business”.  CIBC World Market economists said Canada’s economic growth could be cut in half this year because of the floods. It crippled downtown Calgary, head office capital of Western Canada.
It caused economic harm for towns in B.C. and Alberta, hurt truckers, temporarily shut-down pipelines, curtailed oil and gas activities, caused losses in the service sectors and flooded farmlands. And unfortunately, it created more government debt.
But numbers say little when compared to the human heartache—the lost lives, lost homes, lost businesses and lost dreams.  It’s these stories which will hopefully spur governments to get off their butts and start preparing today for the next big one.

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