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Coun. Chahal to push for help with resilient materials in Calgary storm rebuild

After a devastating June storm that crippled northeast Calgary homes, the area’s city councillor will push for support to repair homes with more resilient building materials.

Insurable damages may top $1 billion, according to some estimates, after tennis-ball sized hail clobbered the northeast June 13. It tore apart vinyl siding, smashed windows and pummeled rooftops on many of the homes.  

Some of the worst damage is in Coun. George Chahal’s Ward 5 community of Saddle Ridge. Homes and cars in the area suffered substantial hail damage.

Chahal posted to Twitter Monday that nearly 550,000 kilograms of waste were removed from the area. He followed it up with a tweet suggesting a notice of motion will come forward to city council to help mitigate damage caused by these weather events.

Chahal told LiveWire Calgary on Monday that the rebuild after June’s storm presents an opportunity to revisit building materials.

“I’m going to be advocating to the province that as we do a rebuild of these homes that we’re looking at more sustainable or resilient building options,” Chahal said.

“We have an opportunity as we are building the facades of homes, that we look at options to provide maybe incentives or rebates to homeowners or residents to upgrade from vinyl to something that’s more resilient and sustainable to protect their homes moving forward.”

Chahal said short term help to fix these homes is important. In the future, he said they need to work with the province and the building industry to look at alternatives to materials like vinyl siding. The key is maintaining home affordability, he said.

The province has offered help on uninsurable damages from the storm.

“This funding will help affected communities recover and rebuild from this disaster,” Kaycee Madu, Minister of Municipal Affairs, said June 25.

City response examined

Chahal said he’s hoping to gather more information on the city’s response to the storm. That’s when a potential notice of motion may come forward.

“It’s really understanding, could we have coordinated our actions better as a city when it comes to cleaning some of those storm drains, understanding the volume of stormwater and getting early indications where just blockages are coming and how do we mitigate those,” he said.

He said real-time, smart-city information could help them stay on top of these situations as they unfold. Whether that’s storm catchment volumes, drain blockages and how city crews from a variety of business units are deployed.

Several parts of the city were underwater, including many of the major roadways, leaving drivers stranded.

Chahal said the city responded well overnight and into the next morning after the storm.

“I think we can always find some learnings out of these and do things better,” he said.

Insurance concerns remain

Area residents have struggled to clean up after the storm. Insurance issues have been slow to resolve, they’ve said. Many are worried repairs won’t move ahead because they can’t pay for deductibles.

It’s hit area families hard.

“We’re generally a very close-knit community but right now you do feel a little sadness in people. You see them not working and with COVID scenarios going around and then this storm,” said Khalil Karbani, an area resident and advocate behind a letter sent to the province asking for aid.

Chahal said the area’s struggled the past few months – COVID, the economy and then the storm.

“I think that’s the biggest one is that having the finances to be able to pay for their deductibles right now in such a challenging time – and then being able to move ahead with repair and recovery,” he said.

“That’s a big one for a lot of folks. We’ve had a challenging number of months.”