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Calgary Stampede will continue amid water emergency: ‘The show will go on’

Click to play video: 'Calgary Stampede will continue amid water emergency: ‘The show will go on’'
Calgary Stampede will continue amid water emergency: ‘The show will go on’
WATCH: Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley announced at Monday's afternoon water main update that the annual festival will proceed in July as planned, despite the city’s local state of emergency that was declared on Saturday. “The show will go on, but it will go on in a very responsible manner,” Cowley said – Jun 17, 2024

Calgary officials said Monday that summer festivals and events, including the Stampede, will go ahead despite the ongoing local state of emergency due to a critical water main break.

In an update Monday afternoon, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said visitors are welcome to Calgary and are asked to follow the water restrictions while they’re here.

“The show will go on,” the mayor said. “The summer will carry forward.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary mayor says water main break repairs on remaining 5 hotspots have started'
Calgary mayor says water main break repairs on remaining 5 hotspots have started

Gondek signed paperwork to declare an emergency on Saturday morning following the investigation of a “catastrophic” water main break first discovered June 5, which uncovered five more areas in need of repairs. The water line repairs mean Calgarians will have to continue to limit their water use for an additional three to five weeks.

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She said the declaration grants the city powers it ordinarily wouldn’t have, such as allowing city workers to enter private property to expedite repairs.

Gondek said three sections of the pipe are in Calgary being prepped for install and two more sections are coming from San Diego by truck and set to arrive this week.

The mayor thanked Calgarians for their work reducing water use, saying that the city “exceeded our water reduction target, seeing a decrease of 27 per cent.”

Monday was Day 12 of Calgary’s water supply crisis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke to Gondek Sunday night about the city’s state of emergency.

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In a message on social media, Trudeau thanked “everyone who’s working around the clock to get this fixed, and to the people who are stepping up in their community to conserve water and help their friends and neighbours pull through this tough time.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary Stampede past water usage data being examined to predict spikes, mayor says'
Calgary Stampede past water usage data being examined to predict spikes, mayor says

During the Monday afternoon update, the mayor was joined by Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley, Tourism Calgary president and CEO Alisha Reynolds, City of Calgary infrastructure manager Michael Thompson and Calgary Emergency Management Agency acting chief Coby Duerr.

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Duerr said officials reviewed the five-year daily water demand trend during Stampedes past and didn’t see a “significant uptick in demand.”

He said some Calgarians leave the city during Stampede and early July also tends to produce big storms.

Duerr added that water expert teams will be conducting a finer analysis.

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“Fun is not cancelled. The summer is not cancelled. Festivals and events are important to our city,” Duerr said.

“Calgary is open to visitors… we just ask that when you’re in our city, you’re one of us. Follow our restrictions, make every drop count. Take three-minute showers… take laundry with you.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary water crisis threatens tourist season'
Calgary water crisis threatens tourist season

Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley said the event has its roots in the agriculture industry.

“There are no greater stewards of natural resources than those in the agricultural community,” he said.

Cowley said it’s very important that the Stampede is held, including its $282 million of economic impact.

Cowley said Stampede officials have identified all areas where water is used in Stampede Park and will conserve wherever possible. The event will also attempt to offset use of Calgary treated water. It can use untreated water for some uses, Cowley said, and will bring in water for livestock. Where needed, Stampede will look at bringing in treated water for guests.

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“We’re confident that we can offset a great amount of this Calgary treated water,” he said. “I think our guests will understand if we don’t do everything exactly how we’ve done it in the past.”

It’s still early in the planning process, Cowley said, but that could mean not washing the stands as often and finding alternatives to water fountains.

Billed as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” thousands of visitors and many extra animals are expected to show up for the Calgary Stampede from July 5 to 14.

About 138,000 people are expected to come as guests to stay in hotels during Stampede, Reynolds said.

“Calgary is open to visitors and we look forward to welcoming them in a responsible, safe and sustainable way.”

She said Calgary Tourism is working with its more than 1,000 industry partners to share best practices to welcome visitors while conserving water.

“We know how great this community is at coming together.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary explores using interim pipes to move water from Bearspaw plant'
Calgary explores using interim pipes to move water from Bearspaw plant

Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, was pleased to hear the Stampede is going ahead.

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“We know that about $272 million in economic benefit occurs to the city during the Stampede and to have that compromised would be not great for Calgary businesses or for the Calgary economy.”

She added that the water restrictions have been challenging for businesses, but the full impact won’t be clear until the third quarter economic numbers come out.

“This affects our ability to be productive as an economy. People are adjusting their plans, they’re trying to figure out how to manage. They’re not as efficient because they have to think about what their water use is and how they’re conducting operations,” Yedlin said. “When you see organizations like Big Rock Brewery having to pull back on how much beer they’re producing, or the same things with the distilleries, there’s so many knock-on effects in terms of who’s impacted by this.”

She said businesses, like everybody else, are having to conserve water and get creative about how they run.

“Is it mission critical for their operations or not? But if you’re a restaurant, you also have to comply with the health regulations. And so there’s a fine balance for so many businesses and that’s the challenge. We want everybody to think about how they can make sure their doors can stay open and be mindful of the restrictions.”

Click to play video: '‘Drink beer instead of water’: Calgary mayor offers Father’s Day tips in lighthearted water main break update'
‘Drink beer instead of water’: Calgary mayor offers Father’s Day tips in lighthearted water main break update

Jennifer Andrews, the president of YYC Food Trucks, said they are operating as normal and gearing up for one of their busiest times of year.

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“Stampede is a huge week for YYC Food Trucks. We’re booked out constantly from morning right until night. I think it’s the life blood of the city.”

She said not only is it an important time economically; it’s also important emotionally for the city.

“It’s a gigantic 10 days.”

Andrews said the restrictions have businesses concerned.

“I think in general people get really scared. We’ve had enough shutdowns, and I think people just hear ‘shut down,’ and they think: ‘We’re about to get closed.’”

Click to play video: 'Work stopped on Calgary water main repair after workers injured; water usage climbing'
Work stopped on Calgary water main repair after workers injured; water usage climbing

Dr. Michael Yoon is a chiropractor who owns Century Wellness. He said fencing went up around his business on Sunday.

“The infrastructure, trying to repair this thing, I understand. But the traffic coming into our facility and our clinic is very, very tough, quite difficult … People are delayed and they’re frustrated and they’re just wondering when this is going to be done.”

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Yoon was surprised when the city announced it could be an additional three to five weeks.

“That’s going to cause a huge amount of problems,” he said. “Hopefully they can speed it up.

“As a business owner and as a clinician, it’s very difficult to run a proper clinic when things are functioning at a very slow pace.”

Yoon said there has been nearly zero communication from the city. He said his area business association sent an email to business owners about the construction.

“Like anything else, good communication is fundamental,” he said. “We can at least tell our customers and patients this is what’s happening.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary mayor praises residents for saving ’50 Olympic-sized’ pools worth of water amid cut downs'
Calgary mayor praises residents for saving ’50 Olympic-sized’ pools worth of water amid cut downs

 

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