CEMA chief says Calgary already planning for climate change

An aerial view of downtown Calgary during the floods of June 2013.
An aerial view of downtown Calgary during the floods of June 2013. Global News

Calling for a climate emergency in Calgary is not necessary, according to the head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA).

CEMA chief Tom Sampson said the city is already doing a number of things to deal with the effects of climate change.

“We were concerned about the climate before being concerned about the climate was cool,” Sampson told the emergency management committee Wednesday.

READ MORE: City of Calgary launches online tool to keep kids informed and prepared for disasters

Sampson was presenting a report on a detailed risk analysis and information related to the security risks in Calgary when he was asked about the push to declare a climate emergency in the city.

“I see the climate change occurring and I see people calling climate emergencies,” Sampson said. “My question is — and I posed this to the Conference Board of Canada — what are people doing that’s different when they call it, that we aren’t already doing?”

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“If you call it an emergency, you should do something in an emergent way about it and you should be very clear about what your actions are.”

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READ MORE: Online tool aims to keep Calgarians informed about potential disaster risks, mitigation plans

Sampson said the City of Calgary has an aggressive climate plan and has had one for years, noting the city is always looking at ways of mitigating and preventing the risks from natural disasters.

The CEMA chief said climate has been identified as eight of the top risks in the city’s disaster risk assessment.

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“We need to take action and we need to take action immediately, in an ongoing fashion,” Sampson said. “[My role] is to respond to those emergencies and to get Calgary back on its feet.”
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