Letter to New Premier and Cabinet as to Why Flood Mitigation Must Be a Priority

September 18, 2014 by CRC Action Group in News

CRCAG members, we have a new provincial government and it is imperative that we reach out to our new leaders and insist that this Premier and his Cabinet make Flood Mitigation a priority. Please share this letter, or your own version thereof with our new government officials, business leaders, your friends and family. We need you to stay engaged on this matter. Your emails and phone calls make a huge difference. Contact details are included.


June 21 of 2013 will always be remembered for the devastating flood that ravaged our City. Our response, as a community, to the worst disaster in Alberta’s history will also be remembered. Citizens, leaders, public servants and the business communities all came together in solidarity.

The confluence of the Elbow and the Bow Rivers is at the centre, and heart, of our City. The 2013 flood was Canada’s largest and most costly natural disaster, with total damages estimated near $6 Billion dollars1 and insurable damages estimated at $1.7 Billion2.

Flooding in Alberta will happen again. In fact, historical data from as recent as the last century shows that floods 35% greater than 2013 have occurred in Calgary. When we map the flood levels of 1897 on the core of Calgary today, the outcome is catastrophic to our downtown and business community. The 2013 flood has been cited as a 1:100 year event, but that definition can be hard for many to understand. What it means is that the chances of a 1:100 year flood in the next 10 years is 9.6%, and 18.2% in the next 20 years. Given what’s at stake for this City, is this an acceptable risk? Some (including some politicians) have asked us why government would spend money on infrastructure that may never be used. This is wrongheaded on two fronts. First, it will with certainty be used, we just don’t know when. Secondly, just like businesses and homeowners buy fire insurance with a significantly lesser risk of it ever being called upon, the assets protected are just too expensive and too precious to run that risk. The math is actually very easy.

After the floodwaters of 2013 receded, Calgary was shut down for business for weeks in some areas. City Hall is a prime example, where the cost of recovering and restoring services to the five impacted municipal buildings was estimated at $29 Million and lost productivity for City employees impacted in the downtown core estimated between $15-19 Million3. If the 2013 flood had reached historical high water marks, the downtown core could have easily been shut down for months. Can you imagine if the downtown core was closed for over a month? Would your job be impacted? Would your business be impacted? The majority of Calgarians rely on the downtown one way or another and our entire City infrasturutre is designed to transport people in and out of the downtown core.

Media reports circulating around the globe have portrayed Calgary as vulnerable to future flooding, and as such, a business risk. As the economic engine of Canada, we need to demonstrate to the world that Calgary is not at risk. Our reputation as a global business centre needs to be protected. Our livelihood, our standard of living and our ability to attract and retain capital, resources and commerce is at risk by maintaining the status quo.

Our governments are currently on a path of deploying interdependent mitigation measures. Urgency is paramount. We need to deploy all measures necessary to attenuate as much water from entering the City core. Time is of the essence.

In 2014 Calgary opened a new airport terminal and installed the longest runway in western Canada. Infrastructure of this scale tells the global business community we are open for business. We cannot let the risk of excessive rain and swollen rivers stand in our way. Large-scale ($1B) development is underway in the flood fringe East Village, most notably a $250M library. If we, as a City, are supporting inner City living and development, financial commitments to local and upstream flood mitigation must also ensue.
All Calgarians have the responsibility of urging City Council to demonstrate that Calgary, as a global business community, understands the economic risk from a future diaster and has mitigated for the risk by committing to constructing upstream flood mitigation projects. This is a time for leadership, this is a time for world-class solutions for a world-class city – our City of Calgary.

Please send an email Premier Prentice, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the Mayor and your City Councillors and tell them how important it is for the City and Province to be prepared for future floods. We need upstream mitigation to happen quickly. We were successful with getting the City to listen to us when it came to bylaw changes so we need your help as our members once again to show how important upstream mitigation is to all Calgarians, not just those who live on the Bow and Elbow rivers.



32013 Flood recovery task force update: Resilience Report, PFC 2014-0282, April 01 2014

Conctact information for Provincial Government officials and City Councillors listed below:


Ward Sutherland
Ward 1

Joe Magliocca
Ward 2

Jim Stevenson
Ward 3

Sean Chu
Ward 4

Ray Jones
Ward 5

Richard Pootmens
Ward 6

Druh Farrell
Ward 7

Evan Woolley
Ward 8

Gian-Carlo Carra
Ward 9

Andrea Chabot
Ward 10

Brian Pincott
Ward 11

Shane Keating
Ward 12

Diane Colley-Urquhart
Ward 13

Peter Demong
Ward 14

Naheed Nenshi


Minister of Municipal Affairs
Diana McQueen
Drayton Valley Devon

Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Kyle Fawcett

Premier of Alberta
Jim Prentice