Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is blasting the NDP government for rejecting the city’s request for disaster recovery program funding for last September’s snowstorm.
Nenshi held a news conference on Wednesday where he read out the letter sent to him by Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous rejecting the city’s $27 million request.
He mocked Bilous for his comments in the letter, such as saying changing weather patterns have “tested many communities” and adding Calgary should take pride in its “timely and highly effective response.”
Bilous issued a statement saying he understood Nenshi’s disappointment but municipalities are responsible for operational requirements related to weather.
Nenshi said the storm was the biggest snowfall seen in Calgary in 131 years and resulted in the largest single-day volume of 911 phone calls.
Nenshi said along with 50 per cent of the city’s trees getting damaged, the snowfall also caused landscape, drainage and shade issues.
“Basically what we have is a New Democrat government saying, ‘eh, climate change is someone else’s problem. We’re not going to deal with this, we’re going to have the lowly municipal taxpayer deal with it,’ ” said the mayor.
“Will they tell us next that because a one in 100-year flood might happen one in every 50 years, it is no longer extraordinary?”
Bilous said the 2013 floods are exactly the sort of extraordinary disaster the fund would cover.
“Last year’s unseasonable snowfall did not meet this threshold,” he said. “Albertans expected their government to be responsible with their tax dollars.”
He said Calgary has a healthy reserve fund to handle such weather events.