First, insurance barred a Canadian NBA star from competing in the 2016 Olympics qualifying tournaments in Mexico City. Now industry concerns may be responsible for halting the construction of an almost $1 billion dollar NHL stadium complex in Calgary, Alberta.
CalgaryNEXT, a proposed hockey arena, football field and multisport venue, aspires to open on the banks of the Bow River, near the west side of downtown Calgary, according to the Calgary Herald.
This has raised a red flag with John Pomeroy, a hydrology expert with the University of Saskatchewan, who is “shocked” at the location and its proximity to past disasters.
“The only thing that should be happening in the floodplains in Calgary in terms of development is the development of green spaces,” he told the newspaper. “It’s astonishing two years after the flood.”
While Calgary Flames president Ken Kling claims that the $890 million complex is “out of the floodplain” and that prior damages occurred “across the river,” insurers may be unlikely to be swayed that the region isn’t vulnerable to damages.
The June 2013 floods in Calgary amount to the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history, costing private insurance companies $2.25 billion. A study conducted by the city in 2012, however, indicates that a similar flood could impact the proposed location of CalgaryNEXT as well, Radio Canada International
“There will be extremely extensive damage to the facility, and we have to remember that the flood in Calgary was not even a one-in-50 year event, and so there’s a likelihood of another flood that size or larger occurring over the lifetime of the building,” Pomeroy told the Calgary Herald.
In addition, 13 senior executives of insurance companies told homeowners in 2013 that they were ineligible for comprehensive flood insurance policies unless researchers developed new flood maps that projected how climate change would affect the region.
It is uncertain how the industry will respond to these concerns, but government officials already seem to be siding with Kling and the Calgary Flames, which could instill confidence with carriers.
“Life is about taking risks,” said Kim Sturgess, chief executive of Alberta WaterSmart, who also recognized the need for mitigation and flood-resistant design. “You’ve just got to account for that and be prepared for it.”