Prentice Government speeds flood recovery efforts

Premier Jim Prentice greenlights two mitigation projects to protect High River and Calgary, and triples staffing to complete Disaster Recovery Program appeals.

“The waters receded more than a year ago but for many Albertans last summer’s floods are far from over. Those directly affected by this disaster have told me they expect their government to act faster to help them feel safe in their communities and get on with their lives. We are responding with a comprehensive mitigation plan and more resources to meet Albertans’ needs.”

~ Jim Prentice, Premier

Berm construction along the Highwood River in High River
Berm construction along the Highwood River in High River

The Government of Alberta will construct a south diversion of the Highwood River as the best option to protect the Town of High River from future flooding.

An innovative “Room for the River” dry reservoir will be developed in the Springbank area to accommodate flood waters from the Elbow River that will help to protect the City of Calgary from future flood events.

While these two mitigation projects will be completed as quickly as possible, they will first undergo both an environmental assessment and public consultation.

The Premier also committed to negotiating a long-term agreement with TransAlta to ensure the Ghost Reservoir, situated west of Cochrane along the Bow River, would be able to accommodate flood waters on the Bow River, further protecting the City of Calgary.

To speed response to outstanding flood relief applications, the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) appeals staff will be tripled with the goal of clearing outstanding appeals by December 2014.

“Flood-affected Albertans want to move on and put this disaster behind them. Increasing the number of appeals officers will significantly enhance our ability to respond to outstanding DRP applications to benefit those in need.”

~ Jim Prentice, Premier

More than 10,500 individual DRP applications have been made as a result of the June 2013 flooding. To date, more than 8,000 have been closed, with the remainder still in progress. There are 677 files currently in appeal. Of those, 120 files are from Calgary applicants and 338 are from High River applicants.

In addition to the mitigation measures and increasing resources to settle DRP appeals, the Premier announced the establishment of a cabinet Public Safety Committee, chaired by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, to ensure our government can respond quickly and effectively across ministries in the event of a future disaster. The committee will take over the long-term recovery responsibilities of the Southern Alberta Recovery Ministerial Taskforce until the 2013 flood recovery is complete.

The Alberta Emergency Management Agency will continue to be the coordinating agency for public safety and the Provincial Operations Centre will coordinate government response during emergencies and disasters.