Flood mitigation work lacks transparency, Sunnyside residents complain
Group draws up Power Point presentation of projects it wants city to consider
A handful of residents living in flood-affected neighbourhoods say they aren't confident the City of Calgary is doing enough to protect them should there be any flooding this spring.
Since last June's devastating flood, the city has been taking a closer look at flood mitigation, enlisting a panel of experts "to examine, evaluate and prioritize environmental, infrastructure and policy measures that would significantly reduce the potential harm from floods,” says the city’s flood mitigation program website.
The panel's final report is expected in July 2014.
But Sunnyside resident Mike Bradfield says he isn't convinced the city is as prepared as it could be to deal with potential flooding in the immediate future.
"We're confused why there's no transparency in what the city is doing and why they won't talk about whether they have a plan or not to the residents ... and they won't talk to the residents about what the residents’ ideas are," said Bradfield.
Bradfield and three of his neighbours prepared an 18-page power point presentation, filled with details and pictures of temporary berms they think the city should consider.
"The two most important things: provide pumping for the large storm sewer behind us and provide temporary barriers. That's it. If they do those things we'll stop ... we don't have anything more to say," said Bradfield.
James Maxim, a Rideau-Roxboro resident and former Ward 11 candidate, says the city needs a better communication strategy when it comes to flood preparedness for the upcoming season.
"There's a lot of discussions going on about the primary developments of the water tunnel and the dry dams upstream, but what are we doing in regards to that period starting May 1 to July 15?," said Maxim.
"Flood proofing" impossible, city says
During a presentation to Sunnyside-Hillhurst residents on March 12, city officials did lay out some of the long and short term plans for flood mitigation — including automating the outfall gates on Memorial Drive in Sunnyside. Work on that project has already begun.
But Francois Bouchart, the city's manager of Infrastructure Planning and Water Resources, says they are also preparing for the upcoming flood season.
He says temporary berms, sandbags and pumps have all been purchased — with more on the way. In the event of a flood, Bouchart says the deployment of these temporary resources will vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
"Some of the locations we rely on sandbags and the deployment of sandbags. We also construct earth berms and we also have water tubes that we will deploy. Where each one of those three solutions will be deployed is dependent on the specific location where we're trying to raise the berm itself," said Bouchart.
Bouchart says the city is also acquiring additional water tubes and the city is working on a community drainage improvement program. Still, no matter how much equipment is purchased, Bouchart says there's only so much they can do.
"The City of Calgary is not able to flood proof a community. There is always the risk that we will get a larger event than the event that we had in June of 2013," said Bouchart.