Climate change played a role in HIgh River flood
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
The government’s policy with regard to homes in the floodway appears to be crafted with a limited understanding of the situation on the ground. The blanket statement that anything in the floodway cannot be remediated and owners should get a one-time repair and be totally on their own or accept re-location to a “safer” site.
There are indeed a few homes flooded above the main floors within close proximity of rapidly eroding major river channels where occupant safety is a serious concern and where the expense required to repair the home is high with little practical prospect of keeping it safe in the long term and relocating the occupants is the only realistic option.
There are also homes within the floodway, designed with an understanding of the risks involved, which suffered little or no damage and others which had flooded basements like most homes in High River that would be no more difficult to remediate. If these are not likely to be subject to major channel shifting, why exactly should the owners be denied remediation funding and be subject to particular pressure to re-locate and why would that be good use of taxpayer funds when there are so many urgent priorities?
The impact of possible measures to provide long-term mitigation for large areas also needs to be considered. These could well have significant influence on the viability on some floodway areas, not that further building in these areas should be encouraged but it has become clear that how you build is at least as important as where you build.
Lost in all of this has been what drives extreme events where anticipated 100-year events are doubled in severity.
It's hard to miss the irony where the community the hardest hit by an extreme climate event elected a provincial member who campaigned on climate change denial. The Leader of the Opposition, in a radio interview, was quick to deflect any suggestion of a connection and implicated clear-cut logging.
It may be time to consider rebuilding to standards which minimize carbon emissions and revise our obsolete building codes as this is accompanied by substantial long term utility cost savings.
Recent changes in the feed in price for small renewable electrical generators have slashed prices paid for clean solar generation during times of peak grid demand to as little as 7.3 cents per Kwhr while the coal burners get one dollar. Solar output peaks during times of high air conditioning demand and helps stabilize the grid, reducing the need for costly transmission build up and what would it hurt for Alberta's much heralded carbon tax to be used to actually support the reduction of carbon emissions. The Minister might even want to consider disallowing the practice of some municipalities to assess and tax trees, whose planting and preservation is considered internationally to be an important climate change mitigation strategy. It's not enough to just talk about how “green” Alberta is.