Plans unveiled for flood barriers in 2 Calgary communities along Bow River

Plans for a flood barrier are unveiled at an open house on Tuesday. Michael King / Global News

Calgarians filed into Sunnyside School on Tuesday evening to get their first look at plans for a new flood barrier meant to protect the areas of Sunnyside and Hillhurst.

The City of Calgary is planning to build a permanent flood barrier to help with flood mitigation.

Tuesday’s open house kicked off the community engagement portion of the plan, showcasing four different designs for the barrier.

Vania Chivers, a senior project engineer with the City of Calgary,  said the city wants to work with the community to make sure the barrier fits into the community.

“We’re looking for input from the public on social aspects to help our decision,” Chivers said. “Then our engineering consultant and specialist are looking at the environmental and economic factors.”

READ MORE: Opinions clash on Calgary flood mitigation berms

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The four options provide varying levels of protection against increasingly severe flooding:

Option 1 – 0.5-metre barrier to protect against a 1-in-20-year flood

Option 2 – 0.8-metre barrier to protect against a 1-in-50-year flood

Option 3 – 1.1-metre barrier to protect against a 1-in-100-year flood

Option 4 – 1.6-metre barrier to protect against a 1-in-200-year flood

The city also outlined the impact on river views for each option.

Both the 0.5m and 0.8m barriers would mean that all river views would remain largely unchanged, but the two larger options would restrict river views from Memorial Drive for most of the length of the barrier.

Chivers said the cost of the project would also increase if a larger barrier is built.

“The base case — the 1-in-20 [year flood barrier] — is estimated at about $8 million to $10 million,” Chivers said, “but up to $50 million on the high end.”
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A long time coming

Some people hit by the 2013 flood attended Tuesday’s open house.

Charlie Lund said his basement flooded, pushing him to get involved in flood mitigation planning with the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association.

Lund said that while unveiling the plans for the flood barrier shows that the city is moving forward with the project, it’s not moving fast enough.

“We’re six years in and this is a discussion about what level of protection should we have,” Lund said. “This is the sort of discussion that should have been completed about three years ago in my estimation.”

Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell spent time at the open house speaking to people from the community and said their feelings are clear.

“The residents here are frustrated and exhausted,” she said. “They worry every spring about another flood. so they would like to see us move more quickly.

“It’s been a very long process and they’ve been working with us all this time.”

The city said it will choose a barrier design and height by March, but that construction won’t begin until the fall of 2020 at the earliest.

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