Calgary Flooding, Alberta Flooding To Impact Economy

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The flooding in Alberta will shave some growth off of Canada’s economy this month, economists predict, though the full impact won’t be known for some time yet.

In a note Monday morning, BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes offered a “very preliminary estimate” that the floods, which forced some 100,000 people out of their homes in Calgary and caused three deaths in a nearby town, would shave about 0.1 per cent off of Canada’s GDP for the month.

Reitzes warned that the number could be raised upwards “as sections of the city could take weeks to return to normal.”

But he noted that “rebuilding will provide an offsetting boost in the coming months” to economic growth.

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Calgary is Canada’s oil capital, with the vast majority of the country’s oil and gas companies headquartered there.

Though flood waters around Calgary are subsiding, the city doesn’t expect its downtown core businesses to fully reopen until later this week, the Globe and Mail reports. But that’s a significant improvement from earlier predictions that it could take weeks or months for the city’s business district to be fully operational.

Heavy rains in northern Alberta were blamed for the shutdown of an Enbridge pipeline over the weekend, after it leaked approximately 750 barrels of oil about 70 kilometres southwest of Fort McMurray.

Transportation of goods could also take a hit this month. The floods caused the Trans-Canada Highway to be closed between Canmore and Banff, closing one of only three routes across the Canadian Rockies.

The highway was partly reopened, with one lane in each direction and a 60 km/h speed limit, as of Monday.

Oil and gas companies are putting into place emergency plans to keep operating during the disruption, the Globe reported.

ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch told the paper he expects this flood to be “orders of magnitude” larger than the 2005 flood, which caused some $500 million in damage.

He said damage from this year’s flood could be 10 times as large as 2005. That would be equivalent to 1.7 per cent of Alberta’s annual GDP.

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