Calgary winter-related risks top of mind, as City shares Calgary’s top disaster risks
At a presentation at Emergency Management Committee of Council today, City officials presented an update on its severe winter weather emergency risks.
Blizzards, extreme cold, and winter storms are three of the top 16 high risks that could impact Calgary. While most Calgarians are well versed in cold weather impacts, severe winter weather can result in significant risk to life safety of citizens, with increased risk for vulnerable populations. The most extreme conditions can also cause the loss of heat, power, communications services, and structural damage to buildings, including roof collapses, can occur due to the weight of heavy snow.
Chief of Emergency Management & 9-1-1 Sue Henry said The City is well prepared, with a range of emergency response plans and procedures in place to mitigate the impacts of severe winter weather events.
“Calgary is a winter city, and if anyone doubts it, look outside your window today! We have experienced winter storms and extreme cold before and are well-prepared. We would ask Calgarians to check in on their own household winter safety precautions, and make sure you pack a winter emergency car kit with extra clothes, blankets and candles.”
Chief Henry also added, “We’d also ask you to look out for others who might need help surviving the harsher weather. The DOAP team (403-998-7388) is always a good option if you’re concerned someone may need assistance or a warm place to go. Also, we’d ask you to check in on neighbours and loved ones who might need extra help during a winter storm.”
A list of tips for preparing for winter storms and extreme cold is on The City’s website at Calgary.ca/getready.
2022 Disaster Risk Report
The City also shared its 2022 Disaster Risk Report. The City annually reviews trends, local risks and hazards and evaluates them by their potential impact and likelihood, and releases a full public report every four years. The last Disaster Risk Report was released in 2018.
This year, Civil disobedience, pandemic and dam breach on the Elbow River were added as high risks. All three of the newly categorized “High Risks” were on previous disaster risk lists, with Pandemic and Civil Disobedience listed as “Medium”, and Dam Breach (Elbow River) as “Low”. Events and trends in Calgary and elsewhere in Canada were factored into upgrading them to “High”, with the exception of Dam Breach on the Elbow river which was upgraded not due to likelihood, but on potential for financial impacts.
“Studying our risks informs everything we do – our emergency management strategies, processes, investment in mitigation projects, our community preparedness activities. Citizens expect us to lead them through emergencies, and the first step in that is knowing what we could be up against,” said Chief Henry.
“There is a role for everyone. If Calgarians are aware of the top disaster risks and understand how they can prepare, they will be able to take actions that protect themselves and their families, their businesses, and communities.”
Other highlights of the 2022 Disaster Risk Report include:
- A total of 65 hazards and threats were analyzed, and categorized into High, Medium and Low risks.
- The increasing population shift from rural to urban environments, new uncharted extremes, climate change, interconnectivity and reliance on technology, aging infrastructure, social inequities, and increasing disaster losses are all trends that were weighed in the evaluation.
- Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, duration, and severity of many local hazards. Proactive measures taken to mitigate and reduce these risks today will be critically important to managing them in the future.
- Calgary is Canada’s hotspot for disaster events in terms of both frequency and impact. Calgary is home to one out of seven of Canada’s costliest events since 2010, in terms of insured losses. The Calgary region has averaged over $500 million in insured losses per year over the last decade. (Insured losses only represent 40-50% of total losses on average – meaning the actual impact of disasters are double these numbers, with the additional costs being borne by governments, businesses, and individuals when a disaster occurs.)
To view the entire report and to learn more about how to prepare for Calgary’s emergencies, visit Calgary.ca/getready.