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Calgary flood costs now total $460 million: report

Calgary’s flood-damage tally continues to creep higher, with the latest estimate coming in at $460 million.

That figure accounts for “initial damage and cost estimates” relating to city-owned assets and infrastructure, according to a new report the mayor and aldermen will be presented with Tuesday.

“I’m relieved it’s not more,” Ald. Richard Pootmans said of the figure, the city’s largest estimate of flood damage to date.

Still, Pootmans said he was “not at all surprised” to see the tally climb that high, given the ballpark estimates top city bureaucrats have previously put forward.

"It's approaching half a billion," city manager Owen Tobert told council on July 29, although at that time a more precise figure had yet to be calculated, as some areas such as parks and pathways were still inaccessible and damage assessments had yet to be done.

Now, though, the city estimates pathway repair will cost an additional $2 million on top of $1.7 already approved during the state of emergency.

Cleanup work and other projects at city parks, meanwhile, are expected to require another $6.5 million on top of $6.6 million already approved.

A separate report, also due up at Tuesday’s priorities and finance committee meeting, details the flood’s effect on the city’s operating budget, with the financial impact from June 20 to June 30 alone estimated at $61.7 million.

Of that, $33.7 million is expected to be covered by insurance or the provincial government, but the report also cautions, “not all costs are likely to be recovered.”

Aldermen, meanwhile, say they’ll be seeking more information from city staff before deciding on tens of millions of dollars in adjustments to this year’s capital budget recommended in another report.

“I’m OK with approving projects that need to be done because of the flood,” Ald. Shane Keating said Monday. “But when you start adjusting and delaying and deferring, that’s a totally different concept, and without solid, solid information … I’m not in favour of any of that.”

His comments come in response to a recommendation from city staff to amend the currently approved 2013-14 capital budget with $95.6 million in additional spending on flood-related projects, while also removing $41.7 million in non-flood-related spending.

The result is a $53.9-million increase, which is notably close to the $52 million in “tax room” council decided earlier this summer to devote to flood recovery and mitigation.

“I think that’s sheerly coincidental,” said Pootmans. “But that’s a question I know will be asked.”

Before making up his mind on the recommendations, Pootmans said he wants more information on the potential impacts to the city’s long-term reserve funds.

Keating said with the uncertainty still surrounding costs covered by the province and insurance, it might be premature to re-adjust capital budgets right away.

“It makes more sense that we would just dip into the reserve funds,” he said.

Who pays for what?

  • The city’s preliminary request for funding under the province’s Disaster Recovery Program totals $147 million, but that amount is expected to be revised.
  • The city expects to recover about $166 million in flood-related costs from insurance, according to current estimates.
  • The city has already received a $50-million advance from insurance providers.

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