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Flood mitigation under EPCOR could lead to higher utility rates in Edmonton: report

Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012. Kathy Brower

Edmonton city council may vote to transfer the drainage branch to EPCOR, which could result in higher utility rates for city residents.

EPCOR proposed the drainage branch transfer at the June 14, 2016 city council meeting.

A new city hall report said the amount of flood mitigation work needing to be done will likely lead to the higher rate because government grants won’t be enough.

Coun. Andrew Knack said council has heard the time frame they’re talking about is getting shorter all the time.

READ MORE: Whitemud flood proposed solutions will be before council next spring – but at what cost? 

“A number of years ago the thought was, this might be a 100 year project. Realistically now, we’re at a minimum of 50 year requirements to get it done,” he said in an interview adding the time frame could get even less.

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“Rates will be impacted whatever that decision is, but I would hope we don’t make a decision about flood mitigation solely on how that is going to impact rates,” Knack said.

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“We need to prioritize how quickly we need to do the work to make sure everyone is properly protected. That should be the number one priority.”

Flooding in Edmonton, July 2012
Flooding in Edmonton, July 2012 Emmet Adriaans
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012. Kathy Brower
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012. Kathy Brower
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012. Kathy Brower
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012. Kathy Brower
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.
Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012. Kathy Brower
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A thunderstorm that passed through Edmonton Thursday evening caused plenty of headaches for drivers and residents, Friday, August 30, 2013.
A thunderstorm that passed through Edmonton Thursday evening caused plenty of headaches for drivers and residents, Friday, August 30, 2013. Global News
Flooding strands motorists on Whitemud.
Flooding strands motorists on Whitemud. Global News
A group of friends is rescued from Whitemud Drive after a summer storm floods the freeway.
A group of friends is rescued from Whitemud Drive after a summer storm floods the freeway. Global News
Edmonton Firefighters rescue trapped motorists along Whitemud Drive.
Edmonton Firefighters rescue trapped motorists along Whitemud Drive. Global News
Motorists were rescued from Whitemud Drive after heavy rain flooded the freeway.
Motorists were rescued from Whitemud Drive after heavy rain flooded the freeway. Global News
Flooding strands motorists on Whitemud.
Flooding strands motorists on Whitemud. Global News
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southeast Edmonton flooding
Flooding in Tweedle Place in southeast Edmonton in July 2012. Supplied, Global News
Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton.
Friday, July 25, 2014.
Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton. Friday, July 25, 2014. Dave Carels, Global News
Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton.
Friday, July 25, 2014.
Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton. Friday, July 25, 2014. Dave Carels, Global News
Flooding in Edmonton in July 2012
Flooding in Edmonton in July 2012 April Daly
Rain sparks flash flooding in Edmonton on June 25, 2013.
Rain sparks flash flooding in Edmonton on June 25, 2013. Mike Simpson, Global News
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Rain sparks flash flooding in Edmonton, 122 Avenue and 145 Street, June 25, 2013
Rain sparks flash flooding in Edmonton, 122 Avenue and 145 Street, June 25, 2013 Mike Simpson, Global News
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013 Fletcher Kent, Global News
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013 Fletcher Kent, Global News
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013 Fletcher Kent, Global News
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013 Fletcher Kent, Global News
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013
Flooding in Edmonton River Valley neighbourhood, 98 Avenue and 92 Street, June 25, 2013 Fletcher Kent, Global News

READ MORE: Severe thunderstorm in Edmonton caused headaches for evening commute

Council is still to hear how much work is urgent, and how much can wait.

“The release of the flood maps just before the winter break, started to provide that information,” Knack said. “At utility committee we’re going to do a deep dive into that, so we will not only take those flood maps but it will be combined with a great deal of analysis that our administration has been doing over the last year or so around how quickly we need to proceed with this flood mitigation.”

The report also says that if EPCOR does get control of drainage, the city would still be eligible for provincial and federal grants, even though the assets would then be in control of a private company.

READ MORE: Heavy rain causes another round of floods and power outages

Edmonton is hoping to get a share of the nearly $22 billion that will be granted over the next 11 years.

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“The New Building Canada Fund guidelines’ definition of eligible recipient includes ‘a public sector body that is established by or under provincial or territorial statute or by regulation or is wholly owned by a province, territory, municipal or regional government,'” the report said. “Based on this definition, officials at Infrastructure Canada are of the opinion that municipally-controlled corporations such as EPCOR, would likely be an eligible recipient.”

“I think that might have been the deal breaker for some people if we weren’t going to be eligible for funding,” Knack said.

Flash flooding in Edmonton after city slammed by summer storm
Flash flooding in Edmonton after city slammed by summer storm

WATCH ABOVE: Mother Nature unleashed her fury on Alberta’s capital this past summer. The violent thunderstorm rolled through and triggered flash flooding while also sending at least one person to hospital. Shallima Maharaj and Jesse Beyer filed these reports on July 27, 2016.

No specific numbers are being talked about yet, however it’s expected more will be known at the Jan. 24 council meeting.