June 13, 2014 by CRC Action Group in News

Many thanks to all of our members who made it to the AGM last night. We have attached our business and the presentations of Emma May, Tony Morris and Brenda Leeds Binder for those who could not attend. We are grateful that the Mayor and the Premier were able to join and we will continue our advocacy efforts. A powerpoint presentation prepared by Brad Geddes on DRP will also be uploaded to our website. Thanks very much to Brad for his compassion and honesty last night.

June 12, 2014


Board of Directors:

Emma May – President Elbow Park
Tony Morris – Vice President Roxboro
Brenda Leeds Binder East Elbow
Daryl William Rudichuk Rideau
Gloria Mak Sunnyside
Steven James Forrest Rideau
Robert Nieuwesteeg Bowness
Anna Mravcak – Treasurer Elbow Park

1. Welcome and Introduction of Current Board of Directors and Officers (Rob Nieuwesteeg)

2. CRCAG President’s Report (Emma May)

3. Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Introduction: Brenda Leeds Binder)

4. CRCAG Association Business: (Tony Morris)

Treasurer’s Report (Anna Mravcak)

Election of Board of Directors (to fill vacancies) (Tony Morris)

5. Premier David Hancock (Introduction: Emma May)

6. Mr. Brad Geddes, Executive Director, Recovery, AEMA (Introduction: Daryl Rudichuk)

7. Wrap Up Comments (Tony Morris)


I thought I would get started today by talking about something that none of us wants to hear but that we need to collectively understand. While the floods of last year resulted in a major natural disaster that no city in Canada has ever seen before, the flows of 2013 do not represent the worst ever recorded in the area. In fact, 1897 and in 1879 flows were recorded that were 30per cent higher. This graphic is a representation of what impact those flows would have on our downtown core. The green represents the water as it flowed in 2013. The blue represents what the impact of those historical flows would be in on downtown Calgary today. So as bad as last year was, the true risk that exists here is that the entire downtown business district of the economic engine of western Canada could be submerged under water and thus out of business for several months. Elevators would be shut down in towers for months on end. Economic losses would be exponential of what happened in 2013. This is not simply a homeowners issue. What we are here to talk about today is of critical importance to every Calgarian and every Albertan.

Welcome everyone. Many thanks for joining us this evening. We would also like to extend a huge welcome our distinguished guests Premier Hancock and Mayor Nenshi, welcome to our MLA’s and City Councillors and a very warm welcome to our membership.

On July 23 of last year over 500 of you answered our call to come together for a meeting to seek answers from Government Officials about what was going to be done to make sure that this type of catastrophe could be avoided in the future. It was a hot night in a packed room and there was a great deal of frustration, anger and fear in the air.

We needed answers and we weren’t really getting any. In fact, we were unceremoniously told by some so called experts, experts that I painfully admit to asking to speak that night, that actually nothing could be done. Our days of sipping Mint Julpes watching the river go by were sadly over, he said.

Allan Markin, Richard Lindseth and Tino Dimano had just been appointed to the Premiers’ Flood Advisory Taskforce. Allan passionately promised to report back within a few months. Promises he kept. He also gave us great advice that night. Advice that we have steadfastly stuck to. “Stay intelligently angry”.

We left that meeting with an even stronger resolve to drive towards solutions. WIthin days our Board carved out our founding principles:

We seek upstream solutions that will protect vulnerable communities from devastating flooding.
We seek the restoration of property loss and values.
We seek to retain community integrity.

We have always maintained that our role was to seek solutions. This was a disaster. It was clear that plans and policies were being rolled out and that we needed to engage with those who were making these decisions in a thoughtful and constructive manner. It is my belief that your Board has done this and that we have achieved a series of policy changes that will not only benefit flood victims but all Calgarians and Albertans.
This past year our advocacy meant:
That didn’t have to rebuild your basement as though it was a giant, expensive shower stall.
Not every house in the flood hazard area will have a notation on land titles.
While we certainly didn’t fix DRP problems, we did get your concerns to the right people and some changes resulted, the addition of a dozen Executive Directors to the DRP file and the non-renewal of LandLink contract and we have been advised now a complete breakdown and review of the entire DRP system is underway.
The property tax credit was implemented by the City of Calgary.
Land Use By-laws were amended in a way that is not unduly punitive to flood hazaard area homeowners.
And Last but my no means least, the Province has committed to millions in mitigation projects. Including large scale projects that desperately need to go get fully green lit.
But we all know that our work here is by no means complete. We still do not have in place the key mitigation infrastructure, losses are still mounting for many and community integrity is being tested. This Board is committed to fulfilling the mandate we set out nearly a year ago.

I would like to take a few Minutes to introduce our Board and Co-Founders. This operation in an incredible exercise in team work, collaboration and cooperation.

In the very beginning there was Greg Clark, Tony Morris and myself. Greg has a much keener interest in politics than I and he moved on to become the leader of the Alberta Party. Greg’s passion for his community was key to that first meeting and to the creation of this organization. Dr. Mike Bregazzi, Wade Felesky and Helen Wesley were all founding members of CRCAG and we are grateful for their contributions.
Our Current Board and Steering Committee.
Tony Morris. Tony has been at this with me since before our first meeting last year. Tony has a very soft voice. And I have learned that the quieter he gets means that I should really shut up and listen to what he is saying. It is typically insightful policy analysis.

Brenda Leeds Binder. Brenda was a remarkable addition to our Board. She embodies the saying “when you want something done, give it to a busy woman to do”. Engineer, patent lawyer, mom to three and tireless volunteer. But most importantly her intellect cuts like a knife.

Rob Neiuwesteeg is our resident Bownessian. His powerful presence and passionate drive to do what he can to help his community through this disaster is so welcome. Rob calls it as he see it.

Anna Mvrack is our Treasurer and makes sure we don’t blow through your generous donations. (You can all take it up with her as to why my push to allocate some funds to Mint Juleps this evening wasn’t approved).

Daryl Rudichuk stepped up and offered to dig into heavy lifting when it came to DRP and insurance matters.

Gloria Mak and Steve Forrest are our most recent additions to our Board. Both are incredibly dedicated and organized. I know we can rely on both of them to dig through email chains and piece together cohesive research.

I am so very grateful and humbled to be able to work with each and every one of you. The best way to build a great team is to make sure it is full of people way smarter than yourself. Mission Accomplished.

Where Have We Been and Where Do we Have to Go.

In early days we had meetings with with government officials wherein we expressed our confusion over policies that would force homeowners to spend vast sums of money supposedly “waterproofing” basements. Our first meeting on this topic was with the incredible Andre Corbould who was the head of the Flood Recovery Task Force. Mr. Corbould became a critical contact for us in government. And while we certainly didn’t agree on everything we could also be assured that Mr. Corbould was open to dialogue and to finding solutions that we could all agree on. Our conversations and advocacy lead to a shift in the DRP restoration standata and made individual mitigation requirements infinitely more practical for both the homeowner and the taxpayers.

We have always given the Government of Alberta powerful feedback on the problems that we were seeing with DRP. How early promises were no where near the standards the DRP website offered to people, and that the website numbers in no way seemed to relate to the actual reality of when and how people would receive this much needed assistance. We have heard from you repeatedly – The system is clearly broken. Early meetings that CRCAG had with the government on the topic of DRP left us stymied and confused. We presented the findings of our surveys and established what we believed needed to happen in order to streamline the DRP process.
The government of Alberta has now seized the file from Landlink the outside contractor charged with the DRP and despite changes such as adopting the caseworker model DRP remains largely broken to this day. Our suggestions such as having qualified recipients sign affidavits as to the amount of damage they had on a per square footage basis and how much insurance they received in order to speed up, clarify and add transparency to the process have not gained traction. We also remain disappointed that the Government of Alberta continues to manage the file in a way that is based on its fear of not be reimbursed by the Federal Government as opposed to assuming a some risk in order to help flood victims get back to being productive Albertans. To those who still have DRP files open, we continue to stress to you to aggressively advocate for yourself and continue the appeal process. DRP is a work in progress. Even if your file has been closed I believe that there is still room for improvement. While we have never been able to advocate for individual recipients we hope that our work has made you feel less alone in this long lonely journey and has inspired you to keep pushing for fair and equitable treatment. We know that no one here wants government handouts, but in the face of a such a disaster many hardworking taxpayers feel that after years of contributing to the system it is only fair to be asked to be treated with compassion and respect in such a time of need. We are very pleased to have Brad Geddes here tonight to explain to us a new direction for DRP.

From the first we heard of the Floodway buyout policy we were terribly opposed to it’s application in urban Calgary. We felt that to offer buyouts, instead of to aggressively pursue mitigation options as was the policy direction in Ft Mac and Drumheller was akin to destroying communities. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to shift policy on this matter and we now see the impacts of this playing out as we predicted. There are checkboarded streets in our communities. What troubles me the most is the discrepancy that the policy creates between homeowners who suffered equally from the flood. For those whose homes lie in the floodway – they are entitled to receive a payment equal to 2012 assessed value of their home. For those who are not in the floodway, they are reliant on the pittance that DRP meats out.
The Roxboro 14 as we call them, worked hard to make changes happen to the buyout policy. Troy Moller spent countless hours on the file. Sometimes despite great efforts we are unable to achieve great results. The impact on those left behind by the floodway buyout policy are empty lots, shuttered homes and – in some cases friendships severed. We hope to be able to work with the Province and the City to ensure that the community and neighbors guide how these lots will be reintegrated into the community.

On the Municipal front, the City of Calgary truly rose to the occasion in the days and weeks after the flood. But as things seemed to go back to normal for most in the City, those in the Flood Hazard Area were still in the process of rebuilding. We were disappointed that the tax credit program the Province was offering was not rolled out sooner by the City and that Council seemed unaware of its very existence. The City of Calgary and CRCAG held several meetings around how to make sure that all the different business units that were engaged in flood recovery efforts would continue to communicate through a centralized process. As of late, we were able to work closely with the Mayor and City Councillors to ensure that Land Use Bylaw Amendments were not unnecessarily punitive to homeowners. I would like to thank Paul Battistella, a member of the Calgary Planning Commission, for all of his great advocacy in this regard. Paul was instrumental in assisting the CRCAG board in understanding the finer points of the By-Law amendments and his presentation at council clarified for many councillors the nature our organization’s concerns. To our members I say your emails to your councillors and your active engagement in this file made such an incredible difference. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who presented to Council on Monday. We are very pleased that clarity and certainty now forms part of the By-Law itself.

Ultimately though, it has always been my personal belief that with effective upstream mitigation all of the aforementioned issues disappear. The team at CRCAG has always kept our eyes sternly focused on what matters most here. And that is that we do everything we can do to make sure the urban centre of Calgary and surrounding communities do not suffer from catastrophic flooding again. The emotional, physical and economic consequences are far too severe. And let us not forget those who perished in the flood.
Lorraine Gerlitz, 83 of Calgary,
Jacqueline Broklebank, 33, of High River,
Amber Rancourt, 35 of Longview,
Dominic Pearce, 52, High River
Robert Nelson, 44, Okotoks.

Calgary was founded at the confluence of the Bow and the Elbow River. Like many of the greatest cities in the world we live by the water. Unlike many of those same cities, we are only just coming to understand the risk that is associated with where we built our downtown core. And so now we to need to take steps to appropriately address that risk. And it isn’t to move downtown and historic communities.

And I mentioned earlier, as bad at is was this year, the true risk that exists here is the submersion and subsequent shut down of the entire downtown core – not for days – but for months. This should be a matter of grave concern for all Calgarians, whether they happen to live in low lying areas or not. None of us is immune from the negative impacts of a flood. The whole cities economy would be impacted, work places shut down, companies and employees deciding that Calgary is not a safe place to do business, increased insurance premiums etc.. This is not just a homeowner issue. It was a wake up call for every Calgarian.

But today I am happy to report that, unlike a year ago, all indications are that every level of government understands this and action is being taken to protect the heart of the new west. Andre Corbould was the Associate Deputy Minister in change of the mitigation portfolio until the April 29th Symposium where large scale mitigation projects were announced. Mr. Corbould spent the past year exploring all the options on the table before us. His team scoured plans and options, located expert engineers in water management and lead to recommending major projects for the Bow and the Highwood. CRCAG was made a member of the Water Collaborative, a stakeholder group that followed the progress of the Mitigation plans.

The Province recently announced an agreement with Transalta that would stem flows on the Bow River by 100 cms. We certainly think that more needs to be done on the Bow, either through further operational changes of existing facilities or by way of additional storage and we will continue to advocate for these infrastructure and seek explanation as to why larger scale projects for the Bow do not currently form part of the Provinces mitigation plan. Nonetheless the Transalta deal is a welcome announcement in the middle of flood season.

On the Elbow River, we require large scale additional storage. Today we saw the City of Calgary release a report confirming the feasibility of the tunnel. We are pleased to see that the Tunnel can now be added to the list of projects to mitigate on the Elbow. I am comforted to know that engineers have found ways to increase the storage capacity of the Springbank Road Diversion and that the Province is driving ahead with Land Acquisition, planning, and detailed build design. Between the tunnel, the diversion and the dam at McLean Creek we should see communities along the Elbow and the core offered full protection from flows such as the ones we had last year.

The province has allocated money in the budget for these projects. But there are hurdles before us. We will continue to ask how the City and Province plan to sort out the funding of the Tunnel. We will continue to seek up to date reporting on the progress of these projects. There are also Environmental Impact Studies that need to be completed. But it is my personal belief that adjudicators will most definitely find that these projects meet the test for falling within the public interest.

I would be remiss not to mention at this point in time the incredible dedication of Mr. Allan Markin to this cause. While you all may have read about the wall around his house what you didn’t know is that Allan is and has been the most passionate advocate for getting these projects built and built quickly. Not a week goes by where Allan isn’t following up on engineering or checking in with ADM’s and DM’s to monitor progress. I do not believe that we would be as far down the road as we are without Allan’s relentless drive. While his formal role on the Flood Advisory Panel was disbanded so the province could drive the work forward his commitment to his community is ongoing. Thank you Allan for all you do.

So many of you have been part of this huge endeavor.

Steve Allan and Dave Allan, thank you for your work on behalf of fellow DRP recipients.
Shannon Larkins and Jo Williams and Menno Vanderlist thank you for your web contributions.
John Conrad for his compassion in dealing with DRP files.
Rob Motherwell.

On a personal note, I want to say that it has been an honor to serve my community in this way. I really haven’t done anything like this before. I do hope that you feel I have been up to the challenge and have effectively advocated on your behalf. So many of you have shared deeply personal stories with me and I honor your trust and thank you for your honesty.

As I mentioned at the outset there is still much work to be done. We need to stick together and continue our advocacy so as to make sure that the political will to get these major works done stay alive. We need to support each other through ongoing recovery efforts and educate others as to why this is not simply a homeowners issue. Thank you for your ongoing engagement and support.


My name is Tony Morris and I’m the Vice President of the Action Group, and I will be conducting the mercifully short agenda for the official business of this AGM.

First, I’d like to introduce Anna Mravcak (Maravchuk), our Treasurer, who will provide a summary of the Financial Statements for the Association.


Could I ask a Member to bring a motion to approve the Financial Statements of the Association dated June 5, 2014, as presented?


All in favour? Opposed?

Motion Carried.

I’d like to now review with you the Resolution that has been provided to you, to formally appoint and ratify the appointment of certain Members to the Board of Directors to fill vacancies left by the resignation of several of the Association’s founding Directors.

The folks listed in the Resolution have joined our steering group at various times over the course of the past year and while the existing Directors may fill vacancies through Board Resolution, we felt it appropriate to present this Resolution to the Membership as a whole, and seek your ratification and appointment of these volunteers for the coming year.

Could I ask a Member to bring a motion to pass the Resolution as presented?


All in favour? Opposed?

Motion carried.

Certainly if you have any interest in being a part of our steering committee or more actively involved in some manner this coming year, please speak with any of us on the Board.

At this stage I would like to call on the President of the Association, Emma May, to provide to you her President’s Report.


RESOLUTION IN WRITING OF THE MEMBERS OF calgary river communities action group association (the “Association”) pursuant to the Societies Act (Alberta) (the “Act”).

WHEREAS Helen Wesley, Mike Bregazzi, Wade R. Felesky and Robert Motherwell have ceased to act as directors of the Association;

AND WHEREAS the members of the Association wish to ratify and elect the appointment of additional directors to the Association;


Resignation of Directors

The resignation as a director of:

Helen Wesley effective as of November 25, 2013
Mike Bregazzi effective as of December 31, 2013
Wade R. Felesky effective as of April 7, 2014
Robert Motherwell effective as of April 7, 2014

is hereby confirmed.

Election of Directors

The following persons be ratified as directors of the Association (having previously been appointed to the Board of Directors by the then existing directors) or elected as additional directors of the Association to hold office until their respective successors are duly appointed or elected:

Brenda Leeds Binder effective as of September 3, 2013
Daryl William Rudichuk effective as of November 25, 2013
Gloria Mak effective as of April 7, 2013
Steven James Forrest effective as of April 7, 2013
Robert Nieuwesteeg effective as of April 7, 2013
Anna Mravcak effective as of June 12, 2014

HEREBY CONFIRMED by majority vote of the members of the Association entitled to vote on the foregoing resolution at the Annual General Meeting of the Members of the Association.

DATED as of the 12 day of June, 2014.

Brenda Leeds Binder

I have the distinct pleasure this evening of introducing someone who clearly needs no introduction in this City – His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Did anyone else receive a copy of this book for Christmas? [“The Flood of 2013: A Summer of Angry Rivers in Southern Alberta” book]

This book captures the flood of 2013 in photographs taken by the Calgary Herald. Just what we want on our coffee table … a reminder of one of the worst days of our lives! Mayor Nenshi wrote the foreward to this book, and I’d like to share of few of the Mayor’s words with you:

“The most enduring image of the flood … is that of the ordinary citizen – covered head to toe with mud and mosquito bites, cut and scraped and bruised – working hard to save the home of someone she doesn’t even know.

Every one of us figured out how to use our hands, hearts and minds to help our neighbours.

Why? Because it’s what we do.

I’m knocked to my knees every time I think about that sign in Bowness put up by a family that had its home completely gutted. “We lost some stuff; we gained a community.” This story repeats, hundreds and thousands of times, across the city and the province.

I once asked a volunteer if she was affected by the flood.

“I live in Forest Lawn,” she told me. “ My neighbourhood didn’t see any water. My basement is dry. But, Mayor, we were all affected by the flood.”

Isn’t that the truth! As Emma as already pointed out – a major flood in Calgary affects everyone – whether it’s their home, their workplace, the parks and pathways they enjoy, events at the Saddledome that were canceled, the closure of the zoo – we were all affected by the flood.

Mayor Nenshi showed commendable leadership last summer – managing the emergency response during the flood; and then rallying spirits and motivating volunteers during the clean-up. As we move from the recovery phase onto the prevention phase – strong leadership is critical. Duff’s Ditch in Winnipeg is an excellent and relevant example. The Red River Floodway, built in the 1960’s to protect Winnipeg from flooding by then Premier Duff Roblin, was initially received with skepticism. It took a courageous leader to rise above the criticism and do the right thing. Premier Roblin is now hailed as a visionary. Duff’s Ditch has saved Winnipeg from massive flooding more than 20 times and paid for itself in saved damage costs many times over.

In Calgary, we are fortunate to have a strong leader in Mayor Nenshi, and we look to his leadership to set the course for flood prevention in Calgary, working with leadership in our provincial government.

We understand a report on the proposed Glenmore Bypass was released to City Council today – a tunnel that would divert water from the Glenmore reservoir directly into the Bow River, rather than having it first flow through our communities (and basements) and downtown core before the Elbow merges with the Bow east of downtown. We’re excited that the report indicated the bypass is feasible! We wait with eager anticipation to see the next steps of our leadership in keeping the flood waters out of our city. So – no pressure Mayor Nenshi – but a “Duff’s Ditch” for Calgary – we’ll call it the “Nenshi Network” – would be much appreciated!

Your Worship Mayor Nenshi, I turn over the floor to you.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this has been a hell of a year.
Each one of us and our families has faced huge and unanticipated challenges. I think it’s fair to say we’re all exhausted and too many of us are dealing with personal tragedy and huge financial setbacks. This has been a major event in all our lives.
As a community, we’re slowly rebuilding our homes, our neighbourhoods and this City.
As new issues and challenges have arisen, we’ve found the capacity to respond. As Emma said, there’s still much more to do. And the Action Group’s work will continue until shovels are in the soil and so long as there are threats to our communities, both natural and man-made.

The Action Group extends its sincere thanks to Premier Hancock, Mayor Nenshi and Mr.
Geddes for speaking with us this evening. Given the stress the flood has produced this past year, there was a certain bravery in doing so, and that’s recognized and very much appreciated.

By extension, we also wish to thank all of the elected officials and government administrators who’ve made huge efforts toward recovery and the critical upstream mitigation work that must happen to protect this City. It’s monumental, and monumentally important, work.

The Group knows its far easier to pick up and throw stones than to lay them as the foundation to the best outcomes, and we thank everyone who’s helped build that foundation and who’s listened to our input.

I’d like to personally thank each of my colleagues on the Board for having stepped up to the tremendous effort you’ve made these past many months. Your energy, intellect, good humour and absolute resolve have kept us churning along. That and the Zinfandel Emma brings to our meetings. Thanks also to our respective spouses and families for putting up with all of this.

Most importantly, all of us on the Board wish to thank the entire Membership for your ongoing participation and support. We are at the table because of you. Time and again, when we’ve
asked for a survey to be completed or issued a Call to Action, you’ve responded. It really has made all the difference.
Lastly, there are really just two reasons we’re here tonight. One is of course the calamity in the early morning of last June 21.

And the other is Emma May.
Emma has been fully engaged in this odyssey since mid-July, and I mean fully engaged. She has arranged and attended more meetings, made more phone calls, answered more distressed emails, written more communiqués, posted more information, bent more ears and twisted more arms, than anyone could possibly imagine or expect of any volunteer. All this while managing a family and starting a new business. She’s absolutely determined and resolute, she’s kept her wits about her and she’s been able to keep productive conversations continuing with very many people who would really rather not have us in the room.
I believe that each person in this meeting and, I think without exaggeration, this City, has benefited from her tenacity and approach and I think we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude. So on behalf of the rest of the Board and I’m sure the entire Membership, thank you Emma.

Hopefully, by this time next year at our second AGM, we will be speaking about the tremendous progress of the construction on all the necessary upstream mitigation projects and we’ll be able to report on the development of thoughtful, constructive, helpful policy.

In the interim, we ask for your continued support and feedback. Please continue to do whatever you think appropriate to look after your homes and community. All voices are needed. Thank you so much.
And I now ask a Member to move for the adjournment of this Annual General Meeting.
All in favour?
Motion Carried and thanks for coming tonight.