Flood Mitigation

Question Period: October 28, 2013

Mr. Mason: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Tragically, after the floods this June, Albertans now know what it takes to get this PC government to act, a natural disaster that’s projected to cost billions of dollars. They not only ignored the advice of their own report following the floods in 2006, but they didn’t even bother to apply for millions in federal funding that would have covered some of the costs of flood mitigation. My question is to the Premier. Why not?
Mr. Griffiths: Mr. Speaker, it’s a misnomer to suggest that we didn’t follow the recommendations of the Groeneveld flood mitigation report. In fact, all of the recommendations were implemented or a majority followed except for two. We’re going to be tabling legislation to deal with those. We spent $82 million in the last few years, helping with mitigation. In fact, we have several communities that said that that investment that the province made in partnership with municipalities helped save their communities. The fact is that that program was opened up at the very last minute to other jurisdictions like Alberta, and we weren’t prepared to meet the criteria of that program, but I just met with the federal minister in the last couple of months, and we’re continuing to advocate for a national disaster mitigation program so that we can serve Alberta’s communities.
Mr. Mason: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. While there were short timelines involved in that getting that money, Alberta was the only one that didn’t get it. This government’s own report on the 2006 flood was only released this year. Just one of its common-sense recommendations was that the province prohibit development on flood plains, but the government failed to take action on this obvious measure and put thousands of Albertan homes and families at risk. To the Premier: why?
Mr. Griffiths: Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that when I became minister, the Premier and I discussed the report and released it as soon as we were aware that it hadn’t been released so that all Albertans could see it. We did discuss – and it happened to coincide with this flood event – the two recommendations dealing with preventing development in the floodway. As I said, I don’t want to pre-empt the discussion that’s going to happen today or the legislation that I’m going to introduce, so the member should just wait a little bit longer, and he’ll be happy.
Mr. Mason: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. Well, the Premier is taking a page from the Prime Minister on how to answer questions. This government didn’t implement recommendations to provide up-to-date flood maps and a registry so that potential homebuyers could avoid risking catastrophic loss. To the Premier: why not?
Mr. Griffiths: In fact, Mr. Speaker, we have implemented that recommendation. I’m sure that the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development may want to supplement, but we’ve worked with municipalities to update that information. The fact is that most of those maps are incredibly accurate. The floodways and the flood fringes in those zones don’t change year to year. They change after substantial events like we saw in High River. We’re updating our maps as we proceed.