City of Calgary Briefing Notes and Provincial Mitigation Website

March 1, 2014 by CRC Action Group in Meetings & Updates, News

Yesterday we received further communications from both the City and the Province.


1. The Province of Alberta has a new website up and running where you can track mitigation projects.


2. Gian-Carlo Carra’s (Ward 9) office sent out this thorough update yesterday.


Flood Recovery and Mitigation Efforts Briefing Note


2014 February 10


The City of Calgary established a flood Recovery Operations Centre (ROC) in July 2013 and a task force of business units from across The City was convened. The task force provides leadership within the Corporation and community to identify and resource flood recovery activities and to support the delivery of recovery measures.


City business units continue to work with individuals, business owners and organizations impacted by the flood. Approximately 6,000 homes were flooded and approximately 4,000 businesses were impacted.


Community & Neighbourhood Services (CNS) has visited more than 1,300 residents to assess their needs and offer support since the flooding. Information has been shared with almost 3,000 residents at open houses and community information sessions. CNS, Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and other business units are working with social agencies, community groups and non-governmental organizations on emergency response plans for vulnerable citizens, as well as offering support on individual and community preparedness and response plans.


Corporate Properties & Buildings and Calgary Housing Company are working with the small number of families still needing accommodations.


Development & Building Approvals continues to assist property owners with permits and inspections required as part of property repairs and rebuilding efforts. City staff are working with Calgarians who have made the decision to demolish damaged properties, however more demolitions are anticipated as some owners have not made a decision on how to proceed regarding their property.


A total of 185 municipal infrastructure projects were identified as needing repairs, mitigation and resiliency efforts. You can view the list, an interactive project map and reports to Council at During the past seven months, approximately half of the identified projects have been addressed through repairs or replacement. In some instances, the end product has added mitigation and resiliency components. ROC and task force members meet regularly with provincial and community partners regarding repairs and mitigation opportunities, community recovery requirements and individual repair and rebuilding work.


Much remains to be completed. While some municipal recovery work has been incorporated into the business plan for 2014, other actions will extend into the next Action Plan (2015-2018), such as enhanced erosion control and park remediation. Business units are reviewing business plans to provide Council with recommendations for what will be needed in the future to support citizens and provide business continuity to ensure citizen services continue to be available in any future emergency.


The City’s Expert Management Panel on River Flood Mitigation continues to review flood response and mitigation efforts and to investigate ways of reducing and managing future river flood risks. Six areas are being reviewed: Changing Climate, Watershed Management, Event Forecasting, Storage Diversion Protection, Infrastructure and Property Resiliency, and Additional Risk Management. The panel is aligning its work with the Province’s Flood Mitigation Advisory Panel and City task force. It will provide Council with recommendations that will include mitigation and resiliency projects for future consideration in June.
Current Status / Next Steps

  • Almost 3,500 permits for individual property repairs, trades and inspections have been issued or are in progress and another 300 permit applications are anticipated. The Province has identified individual DRP approval as a priority.
  • The City continues to work on repairs to municipal infrastructure and riverbank erosion sites.
  • The City is working with the Province and our community partners on preparedness efforts.
  • Administration will bring a report to Council in April on proposed resiliency projects.
  • The Expert Management Panel on River Flood Mitigation continues to examine, evaluate and prioritize environmental, infrastructure and policy measures. The panel will provide an update report to Council at the end of March and will bring formal recommendations to Council in June 2014. Any recommendations approved by Council will be budgeted and planned for in future years. Permanent mitigation measures are long-term projects that may extend beyond the 2015-2018 Action Plan.
  • Administration will report February 11 to Council’s SPC on Priorities and Finance Committee on options for tax relief for flood impacted residents and businesses. Administration is already using the Tax Loss Provision Reserve to reduce the tax impact (estimated at $2.4 M) for 1,939 properties that experienced a market value loss due to the flood.
  • The City has done a thorough review of how we responded during the 2013 flood in order to update our emergency response plans and evacuation procedures. We update these plans yearly in conjunction with business units such as Calgary Emergency Management Agency, Fire, Water Resources and the Calgary Police Service. The focal points for 2014 are how to design and build temporary barriers quicker, and make evacuation plans and emergency erosion protection protocols more efficient.


City Administration Key Messages


Following the flood, The City identified 185 projects to restore damaged municipal infrastructure to pre-flood functional condition. Council approved total capital spending of $316 M in 2013 and 2014.
To date, rebuilding and recovery activities in several priority areas is substantially complete.


  • All major roadway and public transit facilities
  • Significant progress in cleanup and repair has allowed the reopening of 15 major parks such as Prince’s Island Park, Carburn Park, Nose Hill Park, Pearce Estate Park, Stanley Park, Sue Higgins Park and Poppy Plaza as well as starting repairs in several other parks.
  • Assessment of pathways with repairs to high-use areas
  • Ninety riverbank erosion sites have been identified, assessed and prioritized. Restoration work will be completed by the spring on six critical riverbank erosion sites to a higher level of protection than existed previously – three are done, three are underway.
  • Approximately 84 outfalls were inspected and 14 high priority ones have been repaired.
  • Further impacts from the flood are expected to emerge over time.
  • Preparedness starts with individuals. Every member of the public, from individuals to communities to The City and our partners, has a role to play in preparedness.
  • In addition to recovery and mitigation efforts, it is critical The City builds resiliency measures into projects and processes to decrease our vulnerability to social, economic and environmental impacts of future disaster events. Resiliency is the capacity of a system to cope with, adapt to or recover from a recurrent disturbance such as a flood. Resiliency includes planning for the future.
  • This is an excellent opportunity to build in resiliency so we are “building today for tomorrow”.
  • Efficiencies are possible through lifecycle and maintenance cycles.
  • There are opportunities to improve infrastructure so it is more resilient to future flooding impacts.


This is a critical window of opportunity where citizens feel a sense of belonging and are keen to make the future better through collective action. Citizen input and participation is encouraged through avenues such as community meetings organized by City operations undertaking repairs, upcoming online engagement on pedestrian bridge replacements and ongoing door-knocking and social agency interaction by CNS.


  • Administration has incorporated resiliency within ongoing repair and recovery work with minimal incremental costs. Examples include:
  • Choosing water resistant materials when replacing damaged materials.
  • Moving mechanical equipment above the flood line when replacing it.
  • Relocating some maintenance materials from below grade to above grade.
  • Improvements to river banks – in some cases restoring to a greater level of protection than what existed prior to the 2013 flood.


City / Stakeholder Roles

  • The City continues with recovery efforts and is working with the Province and our community partners to ensure our community and our organization is better prepared when spring river flows begin.
  • ROC continues to monitor and coordinate recovery efforts.
  • Citizens have a role to play in ensuring their personal preparednesswhen a crisis arises or disaster strikes.
  • CEMA is undertaking flood preparedness measures in anticipation of the 2014 river flow season.


Questions & Answers


1.What can Calgarians expect in the spring for flooding?

Last year’s flooding was a combination of the quick melting of a heavy snow pack, ground saturation and heavier than usual rainfall over an extended number of days.


The Calgary Emergency Management Agency and City of Calgary business units are in frequent contact with other agencies like Alberta Environment & Sustainable Development and Environment Canada which continually monitor snowpack levels, river and stream flows, and ground saturation levels. The City monitors and reviews this information and increases the intensity of monitoring as high river flow season approaches.


There are still a few months left in the snow season and it is premature to predict how much precipitation may occur in the spring, the rate of snowpack melt or ground saturation levels.


2.What is The City doing to help individuals and communities prepare for spring river flows?

A number of initiatives are underway and being planned to help communities and individuals prepare for emergencies.

City business units are working with community groups to help develop their own community emergency preparedness plans, including options for resident notifications.
CEMA has developed citizen-focused preparedness information that is available This includes information on the risks in the Calgary community, making a family plan for emergencies and disasters, and assembling a 72-hour kit to ensure that citizens can take care of themselves, their families and their neighbours for the first 72 hours of a disaster.
Disaster Alley is a preparedness event that occurs each May in conjunction with national Emergency Preparedness Week (May 4 – 10, 2014). It is an opportunity for communities and individuals to learn more about how The City and our partners are prepared for disasters and what citizens can do to prepare themselves and their families for any emergency.
The City of Calgary, CEMA and other business units continue to assess the effectiveness of communication tools used during an emergency.
Community & Neighbourhood Services (CNS), CEMA and other business units continue to work with social agencies, community groups and non-governmental organizations on emergency response plans for vulnerable citizens, and individual and community preparedness and response plans.


3.Is The City ready for the potential high river flows?
The City’s operational business units have undertaken a number of initiatives to mitigate the impact of future flooding. They include:

  • Restoration work will be completed by the spring on six critical riverbank erosion sites to a higher level of protection than existed previously – three are done, three are underway
  • Identifying and prioritizing other riverbank erosion sites needing repair
  • Identifying and prioritizing outfalls and water storage sites requiring work in 2014 and beyond
  • Reviewing the use of temporary berms in 2013 to improve their design and construction
  • Upgrading storm water systems in older areas designed before current standards were implemented
  • Working with the Province and suppliers to secure response supplies like sand bags and flood tubes for deployment by The City
  • Working to improve communication protocols with provincial forecasters and upstream stakeholders
  • Using lessons learned from the 2013 flood to improve emergency response plans, including designing and building temporary barriers quicker, and making evacuation plans and emergency erosion protection protocols more efficient


4.What steps is The City taking to monitor the situation?

We continue to work with regional and provincial stakeholders on broader approaches. For example, we are working with our partners to discuss options for flood monitoring and predictions. As spring river flow season approaches, The City routinely increases the intensity of monitoring.


We are refining river models and maps using data collected by The City and our partners, updating response plans for water and waste water treatment facilities and our broader infrastructure, refining monitoring and prediction systems, and studying ice jam processes.


5.What is The City doing to help residents who are still trying to repair their home?

The Government of Alberta offers financial assistance to eligible property owners through its Disaster Recovery Program (DRP). The program provides financial assistance for uninsurable property damage, loss and other expenses.


City staff continue to support people who are repairing and rebuilding and offer a number of services:

  • Verify if a contractor has a valid business licence, and is authorized to work in Calgary
  • Determine what permit(s) are required, based on how people plan to repair, renovate or rebuild
  • Discuss the standards and requirements as applicable by codes and City bylaw as it relates to individuals’ flood recovery plans
  • Clarify if permit(s) were obtained by licensed contractors to complete work at a property, and the status of inspection(s) for any such work
  • Recommend measures to winterize an unoccupied property to prevent further damage
  • Review a new home design proposal before applying for a development permit
  • Explain The City’s role in inspecting flood mitigation measures for homeowners who have applied to the Alberta Government’s Disaster Recovery Program (DRP)
  • Offer support navigating the Alberta Government’s Disaster Recovery Program, Flood Mitigation Measure Permit process and requirements


Development and Building Approvals is launching a safety campaign later this month regarding the permitting and inspection process, and the need for repair and construction work to meet standards and requirements of various safety codes and City bylaws. Affected property owners will receive a letter and informational sheet from The City later this month with safety information. Additional communication tactics, including social media, community signs and web will supplement the safety campaign.


6.What is resiliency?

Resiliency is about ensuring the strength and resources to withstand emergency or catastrophic events. It is the capacity of a system to cope with, adapt to or recover from a recurrent disturbance such as a flood. Resiliency includes planning for the future to reduce the need for mitigation.


We are taking a Triple Bottom Line approach to recovery and resiliency. Some business units have identified projects and resiliency steps that will help improve business service delivery, protect facilities and infrastructure, and strengthen operational continuity in the event of another crisis. Projects include:


  • Software upgrades to the emergency management system at the Emergency Operations Centre
  • Raising the berm around the Calgary Zoo island to mitigate future flood impacts to protect both The City and the Calgary Zoological Society’s assets
  • Designing permanent flood barriers to protect the wastewater treatment plant


Projects require budget approval because they are not covered by insurance or the Disaster Recovery Program.


The City has already invested in resiliency over the past several years. Examples include:


  • Building public awareness and education of personal preparedness through events like Disaster Alley, 72-hour emergency preparedness kit checklists, and through initiatives such as the Household Emergency Action Plans and Important Document bags to protect hard-to-replace records.
  • Emergency response – the new Emergency Operations Centre and emergency management system


Infrastructure investments

  • erosion control improvements on the Bow and Elbow rivers (e.g. Inglewood berm)
  • addition of storm water outfall gates and barriers
  • modification of storm water systems
  • upgrades to the water treatment plants
  • relocation of essential IT services to ensure Information Technology sustainability and efficiency


Water Services operation centre development
Staff preparedness for business continuity to ensure services to citizens can be maintained or restored quickly


7.What other work has been done to support our citizens and repair municipal infrastructure so far?


Community Services and Protective Services

Staff continue to provide flood-impacted communities with direct support services including face-to-face service delivery to vulnerable residents, identifying resource sources and information to meet needs while fostering community development opportunities for those who continue to be affected by the flood.


  • Reopened over 30 parks, including 15 major parks
  • Repaired 57 kms of the 93 kms of pathway that were damaged
  • Resurfaced and cleaned 10 of 11 impacted playgrounds
  • Work is underway or planned at a number of other parks, pathways, off-leash areas, and park facilities including such things as repairs to causeways, creek crossings and playgrounds and the re-establishment of vegetation


Corporate Services


Since June 2013, The Office of Land Servicing and Housing has worked with the Province on two flood-related initiatives:


  • Displaced Residents Temporary Housing Project: This project helped Calgarians displaced by the flood.
  • Great Plains Temporary Neighbourhood: The Alberta Emergency Management Agency opened a temporary housing facility on City-owned land to house flood victims in southern Alberta. The Office of Land Servicing and Housing partnered with the Province in developing 40 acres of City-owned industrial land in southeast Calgary and leasing it to the Province for temporary housing.
  • Corporate Properties & Buildings conducted repairs and recovery work at damaged City facilities. All employees were back in buildings as of August 27, 2013.


Planning, Development and Assessment


  • Permit Volume Activity: the numbers generally reflect the initial understanding of flood recovery, as owners restored basic operations in flood-damaged buildings. Approvals as of February 7, 2014:
  • Demolition Permits: 24 completed and 35 in progress – additional demolitions are anticipated as some owners have not determined their preferred course of action on their property.
  • Building Permits: 145 completed and 168 in progress – future projected volume is 300+ permits (this class of permit is for reconstruction of flood damaged interior space or fire alarm systems).
  • Trade Permits: 1,820 completed and 1,297 in progress – this class of permit is for replacement of electrical panels, furnaces, hot water tanks through the online ePermit process.
  • Property Assessment Roll: mailed 3,290 information requests, responded to 380 customer inquiries, reviewed 230 building permits.
  • DBA continues to monitor permit activity and volume, and data suggests that a substantial number of permits will be applied for this spring for two reasons:

Calgarians have reached conclusions regarding how to approach and fund repairs, either privately or through the Alberta Government’s Disaster Recovery Program.

A substantial number of properties impacted by flooding have seen no permitting activity, suggesting permits may not have been applied for yet for existing or future repairs or construction.



Three pedestrian bridges over the Elbow River have been removed and will be replaced with new structures this year. Transportation Infrastructure will be posting bridge renderings online in early March and Calgarians can vote for their favourite rendering throughout the month. A public information session is being planned for early March.
All major roadway and public transit facilities were repaired shortly after the flood.
Repaired 250 sinkholes and reopened 150 km of flood-impacted roadways

Utilities and Environmental Protection:

  • Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment plant – while repairs brought plant operations to pre-flood levels, work is ongoing and the full recovery of monitoring controls and flood mitigation measures is expected by the spring is ongoing.
  • 11 of 12 damaged lift stations have been repaired. The remaining lift station in Elbow Park is operational but requires electrical upgrades to make it more resilient.
  • Of the 14 storm water ponds inundated by flood waters, only one sustained significant damage and will be repaired by spring.
  • More than 40 km of storm mains and 10 km of sanitary mains were assessed and cleaned, more than 60 km of watermains were inspected for leaks and approximately 84 outfalls were inspected and 14 high priority ones have been repaired

River cleanup:
Elbow river – 26 tonnes of debris removed – 100 per cent complete
Bow River – 24 tonnes of debris removed – 25 per cent complete


Your Questions to Team Ward 9 (send us more)

What does the report/study say about the effect of the Zoo building a berm around the island?


The flood mitigation plans (berm) around the Zoo would be constructed well within Zoo property and not in the floodplain. Our Consultant has also done hydrotechnical analysis to confirm that the construction plans at the Zoo will not affect the river flows on the other banks.
St. Patrick’s Island Bridge – News Release from CMLC


All Hands on Deck


Construction on the St. Patrick’s Island Bridge reached a solid milestone this week, when Graham Construction proudly poured the final section of the bridge deck.


With the bridge now restored to where it was just before flood waters hit in June of last year, East Villagers will soon have a solid connection to St. Patrick’s Island and to neighbouring communities on the north shore of the Bow.
The rock-solid foundation of the newly poured bridge deck belies the graceful silhouette of the skipping stone arches that will top the bridge. Those arches may look delicate from a distance, but in reality, they vary from 32 to 99 metres in length and 4 to 16 metres in height – and they’re constructed of several sections that weigh between 70,000 and 200,000 kg apiece. It takes a substantial buttress to support those mighty arches, and the newly completed 156-metre bridge deck is certainly up for the job. In fact, 514 cubic metres of concrete and 27 tonnes of steel were used in the bridge, with the final pour being 160 cubic metres of the total.


By fall, the concrete will be cured; installation of bridge cables and railings will be complete and the final painting of the steel spans will be done. Then it will be time to celebrate.


When the ribbon is cut at the grand opening this fall, the new St. Patrick’s Island Bridge will span the Bow River from East Village to Bridgeland. It’s expected that more than 6,000 people will cycle and stroll across the bridge every day, making it a commuter lifeline between north and south-shore neighbours. No estimate yet on how much time it will shave off daily commutes, but the odds are good that you will have more time to play at the end of the day. And when the revitalization of St. Patrick’s Island is complete in 2015 – and access from the bridge to the island is opened to walkers, cyclists, runners and strollers from both sides of the river – you’ll have an entire island to play on. You won’t be in a hurry to get home from work.