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Province funding new flood prevention projects for Highwood River

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta is committing to further protect High River from future flooding. A $30 million funding announcement was made Monday along with promises to resolve claims from the much criticized disaster recovery program. Global’s Jill Croteau reports.

CALGARY – The provincial government announced funding for new flood prevention projects for the Highwood River on Monday.

Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said the government will provide $30 million in multi-year funding for flood infrastructure in the Town of High River.

Projects include:

  • Design and construction of the southwest berm
  • Design and construction of the 5 Street berm
  • Lineham Bridge rehabilitation

The southwest berm project is considered a key component of an upgraded system of flood barriers in High River.

“The Town of High River was one of the communities most severely affected by the damaging floods of 2013.  Local flood mitigation projects on the Highwood River will provide a greater level of protection for families and businesses in High River and surrounding communities,” saud Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks in a news release.

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High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass expressed his thanks for the government support.

“The projects announced today in regards to our mitigation efforts are key pieces to the success of our community,” said Snodgrass.

“It is very much appreciated.”

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The province is also spending $2 million for flood modeling that will support a working group to assess upstream and downstream impacts of the planned flood defences.

A study by the Dutch research foundation Deltares concluded two diversion options were not environmentally sustainable or cost effective.

Based on that conclusion, the province said it will instead assess options for improving the flow of the Highwood River.

The province says the decision not to build a Highwood diversion gives the town the clarity it needs to move forward on local flood mitigation projects.

Disaster Recovery Program changes

The province also announced changes to the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) that will allow 80 per cent of outstanding cases to be resolved.

Collection on overpayments of $5,000 or less will cease.  That will allow the program to eliminate 550 outstanding case files.

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About 75 cases where the overpayments exceed $5,000 will be handled on a case-by-case basis, according to the news release.

Another 450 ‘inactive’ files will also be closed.

A dedicated office will remain open in High River to process the remaining claims.

The announcement was made during an event at Evelyn’s Memory Lane Café in High River Monday morning.

High River, located about 70 kilometres south of Calgary, sustained billions of dollars in damage after rising floodwaters engulfed entire communities throughout southern Alberta in 2013.