Calgary gets $13.5M for flood mitigation projects from province

With several southern Alberta communities already dealing with spring flooding, officials announced new funding on Tuesday that will go toward several mitigation projects in Calgary and other parts of the province.

Alberta Community Resilience Program money will help build flood barrier on Bow River in city's core

Calgary and parts of southern Alberta were hit with massive flooding in June 2013. (Andy Clark/Reuters)

With several southern Alberta communities already dealing with spring flooding, officials announced new funding on Tuesday that will go toward several mitigation projects in Calgary and other parts of the province.

The new Alberta Community Resilience Program grants announced in Calgary will see $13.5 million doled out for projects in the city, including a plan to raise the Ninth Avenue bridge to Inglewood; construction of a Bow River flood barrier stretching from Eau Claire to the Reconciliation Bridge; and improved storm water drainage to better protect the communities of Hillhurst and Sunnyside.

The city has finished about half of the projects on its wish list to protect itself from another big flood like the one that hit Calgary in 2013.

It's also about halfway through a previously announced $150-million fund from the province.

"We're prepared for flooding when it happens. We're in a better, more resilient place than we were five years ago," Nenshi said.

One of three possible designs for a new Ninth Avenue Bridge. The chosen design will be unveiled at an open house on May 7. (City of Calgary)

The $5.2-million bridge work will see the Ninth Avenue span — which is due to be completely replaced starting later this year — raised by about one metre, Frank Frigo, leader of watershed analysis for the city, told the Calgary Eyeopener.

The design of the new bridge will be unveiled at an open house next Monday.

The downtown flood barrier is aimed at stopping water from following old patterns in the event of flooding.

"Most of the Bow River flood plain has old terraces where the Bow River used to be in previous geologic times," said Frigo.

"And really, this is a barrier that would stop water from getting into these old flow paths, one of which starts just about where the Peace Bridge is … all the way downstream to approximately Edmonton Trail. The idea here is to raise up the pathway and in places where that isn't feasible, to install a flood wall."

The storm water drainage improvements include repairing and reversing erosion of the riverbank near 19th Street N.W., along with installation of rip rap — a series of boulders placed along the bank.

Work on the projects will take more than a year to complete, said Frigo.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says there's no indication so far this spring that Calgary needs to brace for major flooding. (CBC)

As Calgary braces for the spring melt, Nenshi says there's no cause for concern so far.

"Don't be super nervous. While we are seeing a few things that are at the top range of averages, this is not a crazy, crazy season, but we must remain vigilant," he said.

The province says it's investing about $30 million for 20 flood mitigation projects across the province.

Among those projects is a constructed wetland on the east side of Taber to reduce the impact of stormwater flooding on the town's industrial area.

Taber was in a local state of emergency for parts of April because of overland flooding. 

The province also set aside $10 million for a flood preparedness fund that will be used to fund future emergencies and bolster the province's stockpile of pumps and sandbag filler in the MD of Foothills.

"It's crucial that we support our communities across the province to be ready to deal with emergencies. They are on the front lines and are the first to respond to keep people and property safe," said Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

With files from Reid Southwick