Ottawa announces $2B fund to help communities withstand natural disasters

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.”

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