The World Council on Disaster Management kicked off its annual conference this morning in Toronto, itself the scene or recent heavy flooding.
“How prepared are we? One way of answering that is that we will never be as prepared as we could be,” said Adrian Gordon, former President & CEO of the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness.
“We’re simply that much closer to the next big disaster. What it’s going to be, who knows? Right now it’s Calgary, tomorrow it could be something else.”
Dr. Saeed Mirza, emeritus professor at Montreal’s McGill University specializing in structural engineering, added that the monumental infrastructure costs accumulated over decades of negligence have left Canada particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events.
“The frequency and intensity of these events has been increasing at an escalating rate and what was a one-in-100-year event at one time may become the norm,” he said.
“When we look at Calgary, we had a flood there in 2005 and they called it a one-in-100-year flood, while this one according to some descriptions in the news has been three times as bad.”
Climate change has had a “significant effect” on both the intensity and frequency of these events, but denial of its existence and a lack of preparedness on the part of municipal governments have exposed the holes in our infrastructure system, Mirza added.
Now brace yourself. Mizra estimates the tab for properly upgrading Canadian infrastructure would be in the vicinity of a trillion dollars. And here's the thing, the cost of not upgrading our essential infrastructure will be even greater unless, that is, you're willing to live in a cave.
A trillion dollars. That's a lot of stimulus spending.