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Ward 11 Brian's Beat: Donation to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund

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Ward 11 official website 

On Monday, March 13, 2017, I put forward the Notice of Motion for The City of Calgary to contribute $25,000 to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Haiti Reconstruction Fund. The motion was debated and passed by City Council. 

Haiti is a country that Canada, and Calgary, have been committed to helping for years, and in particular following the devastating earthquake of January 2010. 

Since then, City staff have made several trips to Haiti to help in the rebuilding of the heavily impacted areas. I have also been involved with Haiti as part of my work representing The City of Calgary at FCM since 2012. In that time, I have made two trips to Haiti as well as having numerous meetings in Canada with Haitian representatives and the Ambassador to Canada. 

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit the very area that we are working in, La Region des Palmes, which was also the epicentre for the earthquake. Hurricane Matthew not only destroyed buildings and all the agriculture in the area, it also washed out important and needed infrastructure. Roads, bridges, storm water management and clean water availability were and are heavily impacted by Hurricane Matthew. 

Through our work following the earthquake, we have supported local government to build capacity and expertise in delivering services to the area. That has resulted in the very people we work with on the ground to be the only people in the area with any ability to respond to the hurricane in a coordinated manner. 

Most disaster response is focused on the moment, delivering food, water and shelter for those whose lives have been so impacted. That is what the Red Cross does, that is what national governments do. The Canadian government responded to Hurricane Matthew by pledging $2M to Médecins Sans Frontiers and Oxfam for emergency relief. These donations were desperately needed at the time, to make sure that people were safe, and that more people didn't die because of the hurricane. 

But, those kinds of pledges and assistance don't go beyond the immediate response to the disaster. They don't go towards rebuilding the infrastructure needed so that people can rebuild their lives, so that the area can rebuild in order to function again. 

The FCM work on the ground is directly related to capacity building of government and people in the government. We have been very successful in doing that. But, that program does not have any money for hard infrastructure on the ground. Which is why the FCM launched the Haiti Emergency Fund, asking municipalities across Canada to contribute to rebuilding the infrastructure on the ground. This fund is the perfect complement to the capacity building work we are already engaged with in La Region des Palmes. That also means that 100% of the funds raised through municipalities coast to coast to coast will go to the infrastructure itself, with no overhead.

Municipalities across the country have been stepping up, contributing to the Emergency Fund. Municipalities like Fort St John, BC; Belledune, NB; Winkler, MB; Cowansville, QC; Halton Hills, ON have all stepped up and given, recognizing that it is a small thing that we each can do to make a big difference on the ground in Haiti. Municipalities across Canada are stepping up and recognizing that we each have a role to play as global citizens. With the motion that Council approved on Monday, we too are acknowledging our role on the global stage, and the leadership role that we can play in Canada.

To reach the point where I was ready to place the motion yesterday, I had worked with City Administration, including the Law Department, to have a motion that could be supported by both City Council and Administration. A method and amount that took into consideration our own fiscal challenges and our ability to make this contribution.

I am pleased that Council supported it, and that Calgary can demonstrate our willingness and ability to make a difference for others. As a city, we have been a recipient of the caring and support of other cities around the world in our times of need. During the flood of 2013, municipalities, big and small, from across the world supported us. They leant their expertise and they sent their money. They didn't hesitate to be there for us, when we were struggling with our disaster and crisis. We have a tradition of doing the same.

This direct financial contribution continues that important part of being a caring and compassionate city. Of being proud of our success and being willing to share our wealth of spirit with others. These are things that I am very proud of about our City. We step up, whether for Calgarians, or for Fort McMurray, or for Banda Aceh and Haiti. We care.

We are once again showing the world the heart that we have. ​

Read my Fall 2016 Blog Entry on Hurricane Matthew​

Read my Blog Series from my visits to Haiti​

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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