CRCAG Response to GOA Flood Regulations

September 25, 2014 by CRC Action Group in News

The Alberta Government enacted Bill 27, Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act, in December 2013, which amends the Municipal Government Act. The Act allows the Cabinet of the Alberta Government to make specific regulations to limit development in a floodway (“Floodway Regulation”), The stated purpose of the Floodway Regulation will be to ensure a consistent minimum level of land use control in flood hazard areas is applied across the Province (though please note that it has always been CRCAG’s concern that floodway policies created in response to the 2013 flood have not been applied equally to all communities and therefore have prejudiced some, given that the downtowns of Fort McMurray and Drumheller, built in the floodway, have long been granted regulatory exemption). Individual municipalities may choose to apply higher restrictions, as authorization for land use planning and development rests with municipalities, as per Section 17 of the Municipal Government Act.


The key provision of the Act is the inclusion of the following into the Municipal Government Act:


Development in floodways

693.1(1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations


a)     controlling, regulating or prohibiting any use or development of land that is located in a floodway within a municipal authority, including, without limitation, regulations specifying the types of developments that are authorized in a floodway;


b)    exempting a municipal authority or class of municipal authorities from the application of all or part of this section or the regulations made under this subsection, or both;


c)     modifying or suspending the application or operation of any provision of this Act for the purposes of giving effect to this section;


d)    defining, or respecting the meaning of, “floodway” for the purposes of this section and the regulations made under this subsection.


(2) Unless the contrary is expressed in regulations made under subsection (1), those regulations


a)     operate despite any statutory plan, land use bylaw or other regulations under this Part, and


b)    are binding on any subdivision authority, development authority and subdivision and development appeal board and the Municipal Government Board.(…)


On November 24, 2013, the CRCAG outlined its original objections to Bill 27 (


We have recently learned that the Government of Alberta is seeking public input to determine the list of acceptable land uses in the floodway as part of a public consultation process to develop the Floodway Regulation. A Task Force, consisting of representatives from municipal governments and development industry stakeholders, was established to discuss what the Province should consider when drafting the Floodway Regulation. Outcomes from discussions of the Task Force are provided in a discussion paper, which can be accessed using the following link.

Generally speaking, CRCAG again objects to a Floodway Regulation being finalized and enacted at this time. This is principally based on our long-held view that all responses to flood mitigation, including infrastructure, policy, education or otherwise, should proceed in as holistic and sensibly sequential fashion as possible. If proclaimed into force prematurely, a Floodway Regulation could place undue restrictions on current properties designated to be in the floodway and could lead to further sweeping restrictions to developments in the flood fringe and overland flow areas. Moreover, such a Floodway Regulation could well ignore the impact that upstream mitigation infrastructure and management will have on attenuating flood waters from reaching Calgary’s downtown core and inner-city communities, and the impacts from changes to the Government’s flood hazard mapping scheme, which is out of date and currently undergoing revision. In our view, the correct sequence of events are:


  1.  Holistically understand the hydrological dynamics of the watershed and the risks presented;
  2. Build appropriate infrastructure to address those risks (such as the Springbank Diversion, McLean Creek Dry Dam and the Glenmore Bypass Tunnel on the Elbow River, and new or enhanced infrastructure on the Bow River);
  3. Replace the outdated flood hazard maps based on these new infrastructure realities;
  4. Develop sensible development policies and regulations, in consultation with those affected, based on all these new considerations.


In immediate response to the 2013 flood, CRCAG believes that the Government over-reached when it went first to the policy solution, resulting in highly prejudicial and impractical policy dictates aimed at homeowners and businesses, that in a holistic view would have relatively no impact on limiting risks and damages from the next flood that will occur. Fortunately, some of the worst of these policy dictates were rethought. But the idea of the Government enacting further policy before the other dependant steps have been taken, is very disturbing. It will again be grabbing the wrong end of the solution stick.


Worse, Government enacting extensive policy, and then altering to whom it applies through subsequent changes to the flood hazard mapping, should simply not happen. In that senario, a property owner in a flood hazard area (floodway, flood fringe or overland flow area) could find herself subject to extensive development rules that she could not possibly have imagined, anticipated, or addressed prior to enactment, which could have a profound effect on property values and neighbourhood development. A simple change of a line on a map may expand the “floodway” and its associated very tight development restrictions, to encompass areas no one would anticipate to be included. And by then, seeking policy relaxations or changes will be too late and too difficult.


In completing the online consultation, it may be helpful to review the discussion paper linked above. Please contribute your thought to this consultation process. Unfortunately, the stated closing date is end of day September 30th, so please consider this right away. The online consultation can be accessed using the following link.


As always, many thanks from CRCAG.