June 18, 2015 7:26 pm
Updated: June 18, 2015 8:14 pm

‘I just want an answer’: Bragg Creek still without flood protection

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WATCH: The hamlet of Bragg Creek was hit hard by the 2013 floods, but since then there has been no money for flood mitigation from the Alberta government. As Mia Sosiak reports, that leaves residents feeling exposed.

BRAGG CREEK, Alta. – Residents of a small community devastated by the 2013 floods are angry they still have no protection against a future disaster.

While towns like High River, Canmore and Turner Valley have completed tens of millions of dollars worth of flood mitigation, the hamlet of Bragg Creek still has none.

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“[Alberta Environment] has told us they are not willing to make a decision on our local mitigation at this stage,” said Liz Breakey, who represents the hamlet on Rocky View County Council, and also lives in Bragg Creek.

Breakey said the county has completed engineering plans to build berms and drainage.

“We’re set to go, but at the present time, we are completely exposed,” she said.

There are now homes within a metre of the new river channel.

“If [the Elbow River] flooded in the middle of night, there would be loss of life,” she said.

“This is dire, and we’ve been ignored, because we’re just a small community of 650 people — but that’s 650 people!”

Alberta Environment blames initial delays on bigger provincial mitigation projects – specifically the proposed McLean Creek dam and reservoir upstream from Bragg Creek, in Kananaskis. It would replace the need for local mitigation in the hamlet, and is still under consideration.

Currently, the ministry won’t hand over money until it studies whether the new berms could hurt Redwood Meadows downstream.

“We met with them last week to go over the engineering work they had done,” said Alberta Environment spokesperson Jason Penner. “The most reasonable timeline, I would say, is for us to talk about funding sometime in the fall.”

That would mean work couldn’t start until spring 2016, leaving residents and business owners feeling vulnerable.

“We gutted the whole thing,” said Countrywood Conference Centre’s Suzanne Jackett, whose commercial kitchen was gutted during the 2013 flood.

“I can’t even say [what it cost] emotionally,” she said. “Financially, about $150,000.”

When Jackett and her business partner risked their retirement to rebuild, they trusted that the province would build flood barriers to protect Bragg Creek from future disaster. But she doesn’t feel protected.

“I just want an answer.  And I want somebody to move forward with an answer that’s going to help us.”

So far, High River is getting more than $93 million for flood protection; the towns of Black Diamond and Turner Valley have received almost $22 million, and Canmore received over $28 million.

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