There is $3.2 million for Calgary’s emergency management plan, but we’re not allowed to know how some of the money is spent

Flood City of Calgary PhotoThe City of Calgary won't release detailed information about the response plan it used during last summer's devastating floods due to security reasons.

That means the public may never find out for themselves whether the city could have done a better job of responding to that disaster.

But, as the Calgary Emergency Management Agency prepares to release it's delayed annual report, some citizens feel the decision to withhold that detailed information is justified.

The agency is responsible for Calgary's municipal emergency plan, which spells out the policies and operations the city is supposed to use to prepare for and respond to a disaster.

But portions of that plan – which was first issued in September 2010 – are being kept from the public, including its "flood emergency reference manual."

In an email, Sheila Johnstone, a media relations representative with the City of Calgary, stated that's because "those records contain confidential information about facilities and response plans that could be used against The City (such as in a terrorist attack)."

Some Calgarians affected by the flood agree with that position.

Flood Calgary Journal PhotoIn June 2013, the city of Calgary was devastated by a historic flood that impacted 110,000 Calgarians who were evacuated from 26 communities.

Photo by Justin Wilson
"My first reaction was yes, but then again, there are probably a good number of targets of opportunity in that plan," wrote Tony Wimmers, a member of the East Sunnyside Survivors Facebook group, in a post on Nov. 15, 2013.

"I wouldn't want just anybody with an Internet connection to learn about it."

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta director Derek Fildebrandt takes the same view.

"The intention of keeping some of these things a secret is in the case of things like a terrorist attack, we're not giving them plans on how we are going to react. I think that's very smart," he says.

Because of similar security considerations, the city also isn't releasing information about the results of a large-scale flood exercise that happened in May 2012 – just a year before the disaster.

The exercise, known as COMM Bow, involved Emergency Operations Centre and the Recovery Operations Centre personnel simulating a flood that would cause a great magnitude of damage and have a significant long-term impact on Calgarians.

The Calgary Emergency Management Agency's upcoming annual report is expected to address the costs and recovery efforts from the real world flood that happened last June.

In an email dated Feb. 27, 2014, city media relations representative Johnstone says that report would usually come out in the spring of a given year, but has been delayed until June.

"Once the report is presented to city council, it will be posted online," Johnstone wrote.

Previous CEMA reports in the past have focused on the cost and recovery efforts of the Husky Tower windstorm, the Shaw Court explosion and the Crowchild Trail water main break to name a few.

CEMA's business plan for 2012 also noted the city had budgeted to spend $3,251,000 between 2012 and 2014 to develop a new municipal emergency plan.

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