Southern Alberta won’t have a flood this summer like the devastating one last June, say the premier and Calgary’s mayor.
Premier Dave Hancock and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi walked through northwest Calgary neighbourhoods on Tuesday to hear about how far repairs have come since flooding last June.
The Bow River is once again rising, but Nenshi suggests people living near the water should breathe easy.
“There is very little risk of another event – certainly not another event anything approaching the scope or scale of what we saw last year, but it is important that we are prepared."
New details of flood prevention program
The Alberta government revealed new details Monday of a flood prevention program for cities and towns.
The province will spend $325 million over three years to prevent future disasters — part of a $600-million fund announced in April.
During the tour Tuesday, Hancock wouldn't say how much more the provincial government is willing to spend.
“That will depend on the projects that come forward, the engineering that's involved with them and the price tags that are attached to that,” Hancock said.
Since last June's flood, the province has spent $201 million on repairs and urgent protection measures. They include adding boulders along the Bow River in Calgary and rebuilding damaged pedestrian bridges.
Now the government is offering a flood protection program, available to all communities.
Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell said he is hearing that communities are ready for funds.
"You know we have work to do right across the whole province," he said. "And I can say to you that I've had a number of municipalities already contact our office. I've sat down with mayors and reeves from municipalities."
Tour of City Hall's flooded electrical vault
Also Tuesday, city staff let the media see one of its most flood-damaged rooms at city hall.
A year ago, floodwater poured into the building’s electrical vault, knocking out power and other systems in the municipal complex for weeks — leading to $2.6 million in repairs.
“Over the course of the day it got up to about chest height and that was enough to submerge all of the electrical equipment,” said Grant Sommerfeld, who manages the municipal complex.
When smoke started pouring out of high voltage electrical cabinets at 2 a.m., the call went to Enmax to cut the power to the complex, preventing an explosion inside the hardened vault. For months, crews worked to dry out the room and then replace all the damaged equipment.
Sommerfeld says the room is now more watertight and, if that fails, more water can be pumped out during a flood.