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Council committee to receive update on flood resiliency and mitigation in Calgary

Extreme weather events such as the Alberta floods in 2013, are raising awareness of adaptation and planning in municipalities across Canada.
Extreme weather events such as the Alberta floods in 2013, are raising awareness of adaptation and planning in municipalities across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

On Wednesday, the City of Calgary Utilities and Corporate Services Committee will receive a report that features the annual update on flood resiliency and mitigation in the city.

The report states that decisions have to be made on which projects can be completed going forward after the UCP government announced it was ending the funding for a resiliency program in 2021 — three years earlier than planned.

READ MORE: UCP government releases details about flood mitigation funding for Calgary and Edmonton

Councillor Druh Farrell, said the government’s decision to cut flood mitigation funding by $81-million is a bad idea.

“That is an incredibly shortsighted decision,” Farrell said.

“We know — because of climate change — the risk of extreme weather is increasing, not decreasing.

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“If we had another flood right now, the economy the way it is and the downtown the way it is, we would have a very difficult time recovering.”

Farrell represents a number of inner-city communities and portions of the downtown that were deeply affected by the 2013 flood.

READ MORE: Alberta government wants public input on Bow River reservoir possibilities

As for approved projects, new gates at the Glenmore reservoir are expected to be functional for this year’s flood season in Calgary.

The new 2.5 metre automated steel gates will double the storage capacity of the reservoir, mitigating the risk of another flood by 20 per cent, officials said.

Officials are also recommending the city move forward with a downtown flood barrier and the upper plateau separation project for the communities of Sunnyside and Hillhurst.

However, officials noted that a number of mitigation projects in Calgary will be deferred for several years as the city looks to deal with the loss of funding.

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

Farrell says advocacy work with the provincial and federal governments must continue to push for the projects to be completed.

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“What we need to do is all of these projects. We need to figure out a way to fund them all,” she said

“They’re not frivolous, they’re an essential part of our work and they’re meant to protect communities.”

The projects are described as community drainage improvements to reduce storm-water flooding in established communities.

Committee members will also hear that the province is working to extend an agreement with Trans-Alta on its Ghost reservoir — which reduces seasonal flooding on the Bow River. The agreement is set to expire next year.

The province has provided funding to assess options for three potential new reservoir sites upstream of Calgary on the Bow River.

In the meantime, a recommendation on whether to proceed with a flood barrier in Bowness will be available to city council in the fourth quarter of this year.