AGM Summary and Board Comments

January 13, 2016 by CRC Action Group in News


December 9, 2015


Board of Directors:

Tony Morris – Co-President (Roxboro)
Brenda Leeds Binder – Co-President (East Elbow)
Daryl William Rudichuk (Rideau)
Gloria Mak (Sunnyside)
Steven James Forrest (Rideau)
Robert Nieuwesteeg (Bowness)
Anna Mravcak – Treasurer (Elbow Park)

  1. Call Meeting to Order (Tony Morris)
  2. Opening Remarks (Brenda Leeds Binder)
  3. Formal AGM Business (Tony Morris and Anna Mravcak)
    • Treasurer’s Report (Anna Mravcak)
    • Election of Board of Directors (Tony Morris)
  4. Rick Blackwood, ADM Environment and Parks (Introduction: Robert Nieuwesteeg)
  5. Ken Kress, Principal Engineer, AMEC and Geoff Graham, Associate, Water Resources, AMEC (Introduction: June Kilcolm)
  6. Frank Frigo, City of Calgary Water Resources (Introduction: Robert Nieuwesteeg)
  7. Questions from the floor (Moderator: Brenda Leeds Binder)
  8. Closing Remarks (Tony Morris)


My name is Tony Morris, and along with Brenda Leeds-Binder, I’m co-president of the Calgary River Communities Action Group.
The Action Group would like to welcome you all to our second AGM, and I’d like to call our meeting to order. While this meeting is about 6 months later than we would have liked, many agendas were pushed back by the Provincial Election in May and because we wish to provide to you the very latest and relevant information available, we thought it best to delay our AGM until we could share something substantive with you. Now that the new Government has renewed some of the commitments previously made, following its own independent assessment, we’re able to pass along the very latest information to you.


You can see by the agenda that we have three very knowledgeable speakers that we’ll introduce shortly, and we’d like to thank each of them for giving us their time this evening.


Good Evening everyone.  I would like to acknowledge some guests who have joined us this evening.  Welcome to Rick Blackwood from the Government of Alberta, Ken Kress and Geoff Graham from AMEC, and Frank Frigo from the City of Calgary.  And finally, a very, very warm welcome to all the members of the Calgary River Communities Action Group who have joined us for our Annual General Meeting and Christmas Social.


A lot has happened since our last AGM in June of 2014.  That was 2, or was it 3, Premiers ago!  Notably, in the fall of 2014, shortly after being elected, Premier Prentice met with our group and within the month, he publicly announced that the government was proceeding with the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir project.  Although we know that lots of work was being done on that project behind the scenes, it was deflating to say the least when a new government was elected in the Spring and the decision about the Springbank project came under review once again.  It was also somewhat deflating to your CRCAG Board that we were starting at ground zero with building relationships with the provincial government.


We needed to let the new ND government know who we were, what we stood for and what we were advocating for them to do.  But we knew it would be a tough competition to get their attention immediately post-election – as they needed to get up to speed on every matter the government was handling.  That’s where our membership -you- stepped up and played an important role.  In June of 2014, at the time of the second anniversary of the flood, we launched the “Postcard Campaign”.  Thousands of pre-messaged, postage-paid, postcards were delivered to mailboxes across the City – with the focus being on the neighbourhoods directly impacted by the flood.  Members had an opportunity to put their name on the postcard, and drop it in a mailbox, to send a message to Premier Notley letting her know how important flood mitigation was to the City of Calgary.  CRCAG collected these mailed-postcards and delivered them in batches to the Premiers office.  And by CRCAG, I really mean Tony –  he delivered hundreds and hundreds of these postcards.  If you don’t think your voice makes a difference – think again.  Strength in numbers – together we can make a difference.


In October of this year, the provincial government announced – that after having an independent study conducted to compare the Springbank project to the McLean Creek dam, that the Springbank project was the clear winner and the government is going ahead with this project.  For the Elbow River – this was once again fantastic news!  But we cannot forget we received that same announcement a year earlier – and still no meaningful progress.  This is why it’s so important we do not lose our momentum now.  This next year is a critical year to driving this project toward completion.  We know there is opposition and we know that opposition has not gone away.  We need to ensure the province does not lose sight of why they approved this project – we need to ensure that shovels hit the ground.


But “What about the Bow?”  Flooding on the Bow is a major risk for Calgary – not only the residential communities adjacent the Bow, but the entire downtown Core.  Where are we at? In the spring of 2014 and 2015, the province negotiated short term agreements with TransAlta to control the water level on the Ghost Reservoir, to provide some level of flood mitigation.  However – we’ve since learned that 4 times the amount of flood attenuation that can be provided by these measures is what is actually needed on the Bow to protect against a 2013-size flood.  Four times!  There is still a lot of work to be done on the Bow – and until solutions are identified and implemented, the downtown Core is vulnerable – meaning the City is vulnerable.  We hope to hear more about what is being looked at for Bow from our speakers this evening.


Earlier this year, CRCAG surveyed the membership and received hundreds of responses.  Based on that, we formulated the CRCAG Restated Mandate.  It’s not that far removed from the mandate that arose out of the early days of CRCAG, but we are 2 ½ years out – and we needed to refocus our priorities.  I’m going to take a minute to read out the restated mandate, and I hope this resonates for everyone in the room tonight.


Calgary River Communities Action Group Mandate

  1. CRCAG will continue to advocate for construction of large-scale flood mitigation infrastructure to provide the City of Calgary protection for at minimum a 1 in 200 year scale flood event on the Elbow River.
  2. CRCAG will continue to advocate for the Government of Alberta to immediately enter into a legal agreement with TransAlta Corporation to leverage existing infrastructure on the Bow River and its tributaries for flood mitigation purposes.
  3. CRCAG will advocate for construction of additional flood mitigation infrastructure on the Bow River to ensure protection for at minimum a 1 in 200 year scale flood event.
  4. CRCAG will participate in legal and regulatory proceedings as deemed necessary by the CRCAG Board in furtherance of advocating for particular flood mitigation infrastructure projects.
  5. CRCAG will continue to advocate against policy, legislative and regulatory changes that are prejudicial to and negatively impact property owners in flood impacted communities.


That second last statement in the Mandate is particularly important this evening.  “CRCAG will participate in legal and regulatory proceedings” – meaning if there is a public hearing about the environmental impact of the Springbank project – we will participant to make submissions as a stakeholder.  However – that means hiring legal counsel.  That means spending money.  For that – again we look to you –our members- for our strength in numbers.  No contribution is too small.  We thank everyone who contributed on the way in this evening.   We need to have our funding in place.  We need to be ready when the time comes.


Before I turn over the floor to Tony and Anna, to conduct the business portion of our AGM, I want to thank every one of you for sending in your postcard, for emailing the Premier and other government officials when we sent out a “call to action” and when we didn’t,  and for showing up tonight.  Every voice matters – every voice makes a difference – but together, our voices are exponentially stronger.


Our formal agenda for the business of the AGM is mercifully short.
First, let me introduce Anna Mravcak, our Treasurer, who will summarize the Financial Statements that you have in hand. Anna has lent us her accounting wizardry to keep us on the straight and narrow in putting your donated funds to work.



Could I ask a Member to bring a motion to approve the Financial Statements as of December 9, 2015?




All in favour? Motion carried.


Second, I’d like to present the draft Board Resolution to formally appoint certain Members to the Board of Directors to fill vacancies on the Board.


Gloria Mak from Sunnyside will remain an active contributor to our core team but has resigned from the Board effective today. Her contribution to the team has been tremendous particularly for her knowledge of the Bow and her work with TransAlta to push those agendas forward.


Two other neighbors have participated in our work for quite some time. David Carlson is an engineer, holds an MBA and works in planning and completing large utility infrastructure much like Springbank, for 25 years. His contribution to date has been so technically sound and insightful and he has kindly put his name forward.


Greg Johnson is a lawyer with Bennett Jones and has a particular interest in legislation and policy, which will be very important as we hope to contribute to discussions regarding property development rules based on the ongoing flood mapping initiatives you’ll hear about.


Could I ask a member to bring a matter to pass the Resolution as presented?




All in favour? Motion carried.


I’d like to introduce my Action Group colleague and my friend, Rob Nieuwesteeg, who we call the “King of Bowness”, to introduce our first speaker. Rob keeps us emotionally centered, which is to say, appropriately angry.


Robert Nieuwesteeg

Link to the GOA presentation


June Kilcolm

Link to AMEC presentation


Robert Nieuwesteeg

Link to City of Calgary Presentation




There has been much information provided tonight and we hope that it’s been helpful. We’ll all be here for a while longer and will be happy to answer any questions as best we’re able.


As I’m the last person between you and a fresh pint of beer, I’ll keep my comments brief.


First, I’d like to again thank our speakers, Rick Blackwood, Ken Kress, Geoff Graham and Frank Frigo for taking this opportunity to keep us as well informed as possible. We can tell you that they and their administrations have been terrific to deal with and really, in our view, get it. Some of their hardworking staff are here tonight so show your appreciation and buy them a beer or three.


After six rather agonizing and stressful months, the new NDP Government has recommitted to this community. They’ve conducted their own independent analysis and have come to the same conclusions as to the work that has to be done. We haven’t met with everyone in the new Cabinet we wish to just yet, but we’ve developed very positive relationships with those that we have worked with, and its crystal clear that they want to do the right things for this City. They also get it.


Certain of our municipal representatives have recently become powerful voices in this effort, and we appreciate Mayor Nenshi’s advocacy. Greg Clark has provided his consistent support and, as you know, helped get the Action Group initially organized. Since becoming an MLA, he’s twisted plenty of arms on this. And of course, our first President, Emma May, who did so much work with us in the first 15 months, set the tone for who we are and how we engage. Her advocacy has been so important.


Let me quickly introduce the rest of the Action Group Team:

  • Steve Forrest is a project manager and basically ran the Postcard campaign, putting in huge hours.
  • Rob Motherwell is a landman with a real understanding of many of the technical and hydrology questions we’ve addressed.
  • Daryl Rudichuk has helped us on all fronts including questions regarding overland flood insurance and DRP.
  • June Kilcolm recently joined us from Bowness and spent the weekend knocking on doors and delivering flyers. Like Rob and Gloria, she’s deeply committed to her community and we welcome her considerable insights.
  • Simon Geoghegan is our newest team member and brings his expertise in environmental  management to help us see the completion of Springbank and on all such questions. Thanks again Simon.
  • Lastly, Josh Traptow is our EA and has really helped us understand the political landscape, organize our messaging and connect with key stakeholders and government.


We don’t have enough time for me to tell you the great regard I have for these folks. I can tell you I do this because I work with the smartest and most passionate group of people I’ve ever worked with, doing something that really makes a difference to a huge number of people. As challenging as this has been, I think we all believe it may be the most important work any of us has undertaken. You have an incredible group of advocates and our door is not closed if you wish to step up into our core team.


Lastly, you have no idea how important your ongoing engagement and support is. Every time we’ve asked our Members to show their strength and passion, they have, and together we’ve achieved great things. I can tell you that we’ve been told by people that would know that if the Action Group didn’t exist, our elected representatives would have probably moved on. The Action Group only works because of our Membership’s never ending support. Thank you.


All of that said, let’s not forget where we are right now. We are essentially where we were 16 months ago. Fundamentally, nothing has changed in terms of the existentially important upstream mitigation that has to happen to protect this City. None of this means anything unless truly effective mitigation is completed on both the Elbow and the Bow watersheds. At our last AGM a year and a half ago, we said that, so long as you’re with us, we’d carry on until we achieved that outcome.


So here are what we wish to see achieved in the near term:

  • On the Elbow, get Springbank done. This will require continuous pushing, our involvement in the environmental approval process, and your financial support.
  • On the Bow, identify and study two mitigation projects to the point of being able to make substantive recommendations to Government Cabinet, by the end of 2016. We do not want to see the Bow Working Group become a discussion forum with no action taken. We will not watch the can be kicked further down the road.
  • Generally, we intend to stay on top of and provide input to new flood related legislation and policies that impact this City, to continue to be the voice of people impacted by Canada’s worst natural disaster.


Our final request for the evening: give us money! You’ve been very generous so far and that was instrumental to our pushing back against our opponents following the election. Without that, we might not have been able to set the train back on the track. And we have a long way to go, just even on the Elbow, given the regulatory review ahead. It’s heavy work and we need your help.


So, with that, I wish to adjourn our AGM and wish you all a terrific holiday season.


Now, let’s hoist a glass!