PUBLISHED: 31 July 2017

Municipal financial response to extreme weather events

When an extreme weather event impacts a municipality, the Municipal Council can leverage a range of internal and external programs and organizations to respond to the event and complete recovery activities. 

The roles of internal agencies and the nature of funding programs varies by municipality, but in Alberta it is a legal requirement that every municipality has an emergency management agency, which can carry out planning, response operations, and co-ordination related to extreme weather events. 

Municipalities also work closely with societies, corporations, communities, and non-profit agencies (e.g. Red Cross, Salvation Army)[1] to deliver relief services. As covered in our pages on provincial and federal responses, municipalities also play a role in coordinating provincial and federal funding programs[2].

While municipalities play a significant role in responding to extreme weather events, it is important to note that in most situations, they do not provide financial relief directly to their citizens. 

For example, The City of Calgary used money from its “rainy day fund” to enable public and private tree clean up following the Snowtember event in 2014, but did not provide funds to individual Calgarians to clean up their private property[3]

It is also important to note that not all extreme weather events related to water will elicit an emergency response from a municipality. There are many examples of municipalities using their emergency management agencies to respond to flood, snow, and rain events, but not every storm necessitates a municipal response.

Snowtember Calgary

Figure 3: The City of Calgary set up programs to assist with recovery from Snowtember. Photo courtesy of the City of Calgary[4] 

[1] City of Edmonton Office of Emergency Preparedness. 2004. Municipal Emergency Plan. Retrieved from 

[2] Government of Alberta. 2017. Disaster Recovery Programs. Retrieved from 

[3] City of Calgary. 2017. Recovering from ‘Snowtember’ 2014. Retrieved from 

[4] Retrieved from