Province updates Calgarians on flood prevention projects

A lot of nervous Calgarians turned out Monday night for an update from the province on what’s being done to prepare for another big flood.

Many victims of last year's disaster worried mitigation efforts too slow

Alberta Environment official David Ardell speaks with a man at a flood preparation information session on Monday night. (CBC)

A lot of nervous Calgarians turned out Monday night for an update from the province on what is being done to prepare for another big flood.

The Alberta government announced a long list of projects last fall aimed at protecting Calgary and other southern Alberta communities from floodwater, including berms on the Elbow and Highwood rivers and a tunnel that would carry excess water from the Glenmore Reservoir underground to the Bow River.

Many of the bigger mitigation projects are still at least a year away from completion, but Alberta government spokesman Tom Neufeld said it's important to keep people informed.

"You know we've come a long, long way since the flood. Probably May 15 is when a lot of the mitigation will be in place. But we still have a long way to go,” he said.

For some of the people who attended the meeting whose homes were flooded in last June’s disaster, the presentation wasn’t very reassuring.

"I'm not seeing go at it, fix it answers," said Daryl O'Dowd, a flood victim who works as a consulting meteorologist. 

"I'm seeing a lot of planning and — as a meteorologist I know — come two or three months from now we're going to be facing another flood situation. So we can talk and talk but we need to, as they say, get boots on the ground.

“There is a limit to how much study you can do. We don't have that much time. Another June is coming.”

Experts whose job it is to track potential floods admit they don't have enough data yet to determine if it will happen again this spring.

One key factor is the amount of snow that falls in the mountains in March and April, said Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development executive director David Ardell.

"It's really quite early as we're not even in the month of March yet. You could have very little snow pack, or you could have a large amount, but we very, very closely watch that,” he said.