The federal fund for resilient infrastructure is melting away

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The Federal Fund for Resilient Infrastructure funds in sight

Windswept cottages in Prince Edward Island after Fiona hit. Of the 72 projects that have been approved under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), none are in Prince Edward Island.

A federal program to support provinces and municipalities that are building resilient infrastructure in the face of climate change is so much in demand that its budget, which was to run until 2028, is melting away.

The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (FAAC) supports public infrastructure projects aimed at mitigating current and future climate-related risks.

When it was created in 2018, Ottawa endowed this fund with a budget of $2 billion over 10 years. The federal government granted it an additional $1.3 billion in 2021, for a period of more than 12 years.

But as of September, $2.2 billion of that program's budget had already been allocated, according to a spokesperson for Infrastructure Canada. The ministry confirms that it has received more applications than it is able to fund through the DFAC.

Because climate change events are on the rise: floods, wildfires, droughts, earthquakes…

In Prince Edward Island, for example, post-tropical storm Fiona caused half a billion dollars in damage. Premier Dennis King admits his province was simply unprepared for the level of destruction caused by this storm.

Extensive damage to wharf at Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island after Fiona passed.

However, of the 72 projects that have been approved under the FAAC, only half a dozen of them are in Atlantic Canada. None are in Prince Edward Island, where hundreds of people are still without power, nearly three weeks after Fiona passed through.

Jason Thistlethwaite, a professor at the University of Waterloo, specializes in climate change adaptation and risk mitigation. He says that in the case of Prince Edward Island, FAAC money could have been used to bury electrical infrastructure, in an effort to protect it from the wind.

In Canada, we spend a lot of money recovering from disasters when it is too late to prevent them, he laments.

Insurance costs related to Fiona could be over $700 million, but a substantial portion of them will not be covered.

Storm Fiona also caused a lot of damage in Port aux Baques, at Newfoundland and Labrador.

FAAC is a good idea, but its funding and execution have left many communities stranded, argues Jason Thistlethwaite.

< p class="e-p">Municipalities have such small budgets that they desperately need funding to invest in risk mitigation.

Thislethwaite says the federal government should increase its share of funding and make these funds more accessible to smaller municipalities. The latter, he points out, have few resources to apply for funding.

Often it's municipalities with the resources, or those with the means to make their political voices heard, that get the funding, says the professor.

In a written statement to CBC, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is critical of the need for small municipalities to access this federal funding. There is so much to do to enable municipalities of all sizes to be more resilient in the face of destructive storms, wildfires and more.

The village of Lytton, British Columbia was engulfed in flames by a major wildfire in 2021.< /p>

Ryan Ness of the Climate Institute of Canada gives the Canadian government a C grade for its climate change efforts to date. #x27;adapting to climate change.

Funding is crucial at this point, he says. Being unprepared for these kinds of events is costly, and these events are happening with increasing frequency in this era of climate change.

The Federal Government covers a maximum of 40% of the cost of a project at the municipal level. For comparison, in the United States, a similar program covers up to 75% of the costs.

Asked if Ottawa will promote access to the program, a spokesperson for the Office of Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc replied by email that the FAAC was only one of the federal strategies for adapting to climate change, citing other examples, such as Green Infrastructure Stream programs.

The Canadian government should release a national strategy adaptation later this fall.

A derecho caused extensive damage in southern Quebec and Ontario on May 21 last.

According to a study by the Climate Institute of Canada, the bill facing the country to recover from environmental disasters could reach 5 billion dollars annually by 2025 and 17 billion by 2020. by 2050.

But the study suggests that every dollar invested in climate change adaptation would save $5 to $6 in direct damages and generate $6 to $10 in economic benefits.

The backlog is such that we have a lot of catching up to do, says Ryan Ness of the Climate Institute of Canada.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has compiled a list of recommendations for the release of the National Adaptation Strategy. She is calling for more money for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, especially for smaller municipalities.

But MM. Ness and Thislethwaite fear that this future strategy is just another report gathering dust on the shelves. The money, they insist, must be matched by action on the ground.

With information from CBC

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