CRCAG Steering Committee Meeting with Premier Redford

February 4, 2014 by CRC Action Group in Meetings & Updates, News

On January 30, the CRCAG Steering Committee met with Premier Alison Redford. Our meeting lasted well over an hour and we were able to discuss with her CRCAG members concerns.  The topics that were foremost on the agenda were the clear need for mitigation infrastructure, the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) experience, our concerns with the floodway buyout policy and the status of flood insurance.


Mitigation Infrastructure 

It was made clear to us that the Premier has a deep understanding of the need to protect vulnerable communities throughout Alberta. As the MLA for Calgary Elbow, she was particularly concerned with the enormous economic impact of the flooding of downtown Calgary and understands that we came very close to seeing the whole of the core underwater. The Premier advised that moving ahead with the right solution to protect these communities is her priority, and that she is determined not to let political will wane.


While the Premier did not outright commit to building a specific project, she noted that the Province has reviewed many possible proposed solutions and is now at the stage of getting fully engineered designs and proposals. She has instructed the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to build a website where Albertans can follow the GOA progress.  As plans and projects are finalized the Premier indicated she would have much more to say on this in coming months.


CRCAG told the Premier that we are very pleased to sit on the Water Collaborative and that seeing the progress the GOA is making towards solutions is encouraging. We communicated to the Premier that we are encouraged to see the modelling of the proposed impact of the bypass tunnel, upstream berms and the work with TransAlta to better manage the Bow and the Elbow Rivers. We expressed the urgency that our membership feels about getting clarity and seeing tangible signs of infrastructure construction in the near term.



We expressed our dismay with how the initial DRP rollout happened and how the reality fell far short of expectations set by the Premier herself.   CRCAG invited homeowner Kyle Keith to join us and offer the Premier a first hand account of his DRP experience and the stress that it brought to his family. He fully documented his experience and gave the Premier an emotional account of his months of struggles with the program. We also communicated to the Premier how the vast disparity between the floodway buyout policy and the DRP funds distributed struck many as unfair, given that across the street from Mr. Keith (who received far less in DRP funds than he was expecting or needing) there were several million GOA dollars spent on the buyout of two homes. The Premier thanked Mr. Keith for his candor and conveyed that she was disturbed by the handling of his situation – which she also understood was representative of many other similarly handled files. Premier Redford advised that she has given Minister Hughes explicit instructions to process files faster, even if in some instances that results in less adherence to strict federal guidelines.


Floodway Buyout Policy

Short of indicating to Premier Redford the obvious disparity between floodway buyout funding and DRP funding, as mentioned above, we did not discuss much concerning the floodway buyout policy, as it is already being implemented by the GOA.  However, we did indicate that homeowners living near the bought out properties have concerns about how and by whom those vacated properties will be maintained.  We were assured that those who are directly impacted by this policy would be consulted throughout the process, and that different solutions may be appropriate for different properties, depending on their location.



Flood Insurance

We asked what the Province’s position was on flood insurance. From Premier Redford’s reply it does not appear that pushing for a provincial or federal flood insurance program is a top priority at this time. She mentioned she had a meeting with the IBC shortly after the flood, but did not get any encouragement that the industry was optimistic on the viability of a flood insurance program. That said, the province remains open to the idea, but will not be driving it. The Federal Government is calling for improved Disaster Insurance and the Province is fully engaged in these talks.


Municipal Matters

There are a number of matters of concern that fall under municipal jurisdiction (permitting, Land Use, etc). The Premier indicated that Minister Hughes would work closely with the City and impacted constituents to facilitate a collaborative recovery.



The CRCAG Steering Committee left the meeting with the Premier feeling encouraged that we are presently aligned on the need for upstream flood mitigation protection and improvements to the DRP funding process.   We appreciated the time taken by the Premier to meet with us and hear our concerns directly.