Feds set up $2B nat­u­ral dis­as­ter re­lief fund

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - NATIONAL - BILL GRAVELAND

CAL­GARY — The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has set up a $2-bil­lion fund to help com­mu­ni­ties pro­tect them­selves from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

Fed­eral In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Amarjeet Sohi made the an­nounce­ment on the Cal­gary Stam­pede grounds Thurs­day, which were sub­merged dur­ing heavy flood­ing in south­ern Al­berta in 2013.

“We were all deeply af­fected by the images of the floods that took over this land­mark at this time of year, five years ago,” said Sohi.

“Com­mu­ni­ties in south­ern Bri­tish Columbia are now deal­ing with the worst flood­ing in 70 years. Our hearts also go out to New Brunswick­ers who have been strug­gling to man­age the ter­ri­ble im­pact of record flood­ing.”

Sohi said the 10-year pro­gram will cover projects that help com­mu­ni­ties with­stand nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in­clud­ing floods, wild­fires, seis­mic events and droughts. He said ex­treme weather brought on by cli­mate change is hav­ing a dra­matic im­pact on Cana­dian com­mu­ni­ties

from coast-to-coast.

“Floods, wild­fires and win­ter storms are get­ting worse and more fre­quent.”

The money is for large-scale in­fra­struc­ture projects with a min­i­mum price tag of $20 mil­lion such as di­ver­sion channels, wet­land restora­tions, wild­fire bar­ri­ers and lev­ees.

Sohi said any or­ga­ni­za­tion or gov­ern­ment want­ing to ap­ply for fund­ing will have until July 31 to sub­mit an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est. Prov­inces, mu­nic­i­pal and re­gional gov­ern­ments can all ap­ply, as can pub­lic not-for-profit post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions, First Na­tions gov­ern­ments and band coun­cils.

Sohi said the projects cho­sen will be ranked on merit and pointed to the Spring­bank dry reser­voir planned west of Cal­gary as an ex­am­ple.

“We want to make sure we are fund­ing projects that are go­ing to make a mean­ing­ful im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties to help them with­stand what is hap­pen­ing to re­duce floods, wild­fires or other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters caused by the cli­mate change.”

BILL GRAVELAND/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fed­eral In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Amarjeet Sohi an­nounces a $2-bil­lion dis­as­ter fund on Thurs­day, in front of the El­cow River and Cal­gary Sad­dle­dome, which were hit by floods in 2013.

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