Meeting With Mayor and Tour of Bowness with Minister Ken Hughes

March 1, 2014 by CRC Action Group in News

Hello Members,


This email contains summaries of our meeting with Mayor Nenshi and our recent tour of Bowness with Minister Ken Hughes.  We also just want to touch on a few points. We hear from many of you and understand your concerns.


DRP: We are still hearing from you a great deal of frustration around the DRP. We know that payments are coming and that they are nowhere near where expectations were set. We have also heard from the politicians that they are digging in and trying to make the program better. So many have waited so long for so little. We certainly have the ear of the decision makers but we need to reiterate how important it is for each of you to continue to push your own file up the hill.


If you don’t have a settlement yet, keep pushing. If you have been told that you are closed out and you are not satisfied (I suppose someone might be….) then appeal. Continue to write to your representatives. Please also note that we are reviewing lots of good suggestions such as tax credits for repairs and rebates on reno GST.  It’s been a long 8 months and the process can grind the best of them down. Keep at it.


Mitigation: The City, the Province and CRCAG will have a lot more information coming about personal and small scale mitigation.  In terms of large scale mitigation it looks as though there are a number of things that can be done in the short term to help out with flows on the Bow. Talks between Transalta, the City and the Province continue and there is the possibility of stemming flows with operational changes to existing infrastructure. Automation of the flood gates in Sunnyside is also something that seems to be moving ahead well and will offer some increased protection for residents of that community.


But what about along the Elbow? Those who live near the Elbow continue to ask us what mitigation is possible for this year.  The unfortunate truth is that there is little that can be done to help this year. The Elbow is a complicated problem. Modelling demonstrates that large scale berms and bypasses will stem flows significantly and will serve as excellent protection for the downtown core. But they are big projects and they are going to take time to build. It is imperative that they are done and that they are done properly.


We are pushing for these projects to be completed as quickly as possible bearing in mind that they need to be properly engineered and constructed. We attend the Water Collaborative meetings and see progress. Many of you are upset that it seems as though “just another study” is being done. We also see the Province spending a great deal of money on detailed engineering of these projects. We must continue to ask for reporting on the projects. We must push for hard timelines and hold all parties accountable to these timelines. We are currently waiting to hear about the status of the mountain berms.


The City of Calgary to awarded the feasibility study into the Tunnel to Hatch Mott. This company did the Alaskan Viaduct in Seattle and the Port Mann Water Supply tunnel in Vancouver. Here is a link to some of thier tunnel projects.



This engineering review will take between 6-8 weeks. We will be prepared to follow up and push for the financial commitment and construction timeline immediately thereafter.


We will get there together. But we aren’t there yet. We know this isn’t the message many of you want to hear but we should not be unrealistic about the problem or the process either.  Your continued letter writing and attention to the matter will keep the political alive and is necessary. Please keep at it.



Meeting with Mayor Nenshi

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The following provides a very brief summary of the one hour meeting held with Mayor Naheed Nenshi, his EA, Monique Nesset and his Chief of Staff Chima Nkemdirim.


The overall impression of the meeting was that there is a desire to engage with CRCAG and flood-affected residents and businesses and to respond to concerns raised, and this was a positive introductory meeting.


CRCAG’s key message to the Mayor was the need for ongoing commitment and engagement through the more challenging work of rebuilding communities and protecting Calgary in the future. In particular, CRCAG pushed for the Glenmore Bypass Tunnel, being the City’s key new upstream mitigation infrastructure, as well as interim mitigation measures. Mitigation along the Bow River was also discussed.


Mayor Nenshi provided the following update:

  • Property Tax Relief – the proposed package will be finalized Tuesday, February 18 and then submitted to Council on the following Monday.
  • This relief is to apply for the time people were out of their dwelling + an additional 30 days.
  • Ready to make applications for this relief March 1 – under the municipal bylaws there must be a separate vote on each individual application.
  • The rough estimate is that the tax relief will apply to approximately 200 homes maximum.
  • The City advertised for parties looking for tax relief for businesses but they only received one enquiry.

Improvements will be made to communication from and to the City:

  • There are 3 Operational Recovery Centres.
  • City is working on a single reference point. Website for flood information to the public.
  • The City is hiring a new single point of contact responsible for City communication on flood recovery/ mitigation initiatives etc.
  • Monique and Chima will be the liaisons from the Mayor’s Office to the new single point contact and the Flood Recovery Group.
  • This will tie all the working groups together – and provide more seamless communication and coordination.
  • This contact will not manage individual files and reference should be made to 311.
  • The Mayor expressed a concern that information around what defines Floodway and Flood Fringe was poorly understood and communicated  – The Mayor views the Floodway to be considered development that can cause flooding to other dwellings outside of the floodway; whereas development in Flood Fringe means that property is at risk in flood conditions.
  • The Mayor did express concerns about the irregular water flow caused by the Flood Way buyout in that he believes the consequences could have been better considered by the Province; more discussion should have occurred on this prior to implementation of this policy.
  • The Mayor is less concerned about tax base erosion from lost homes in the Floodway than he is about keeping people safe.


Upstream Mitigations:


  • CRCAG asked whether the Mayor believes the Glenmore diversion tunnel should be built.  The Mayor mentioned that it would be the third or fourth largest infrastructure project ever built in the City.  People need to understand that a project of this magnitude will take a minimum of four to five years to design, approve and build.
  • The Mayor is concerned about the Province’s political will to fund the project.  The Mayor thought a more important question was what is the Province’s commitment to build the Dry Berms because he understands that they can be built quickly and provide 60% of the solution on the Elbow.
  • CRCAG updated the Mayor on some of the new information modelled by the Bow River Basin Council which was presented at the January Water Collaborative which indicated that the Dry Berm would provide only 100 Cubic M/S of mitigation as compared to the original modelling of the Dry Berm Mitigation being over 400 Cubic M/S.  This discrepancy is being currently investigated by the Province.
  • There was a discussion around a study presented at the Water Collaborative on old growth trees which indicated a historical pattern of repeated wet cycles lasting approximately 30 years in duration separated by gaps of dry cycles; the last wet cycle lasted roughly from the 1870′s until 1932 and then we went through a long dry cycle from 1932 until 2005 – most of the development of the City occurred during the dry cycle.
  • The Mayor said he will defer until we get the results of the feasibility study on the Glenmore Diversion tunnel and some commitments from the Province to fund its construction before he will be able to commit to the Tunnel. We had a lengthy discussion regarding commitments to the Tunnel by all three levels of Government.
  • The Mayor said he has some concerns on whether: (1) the tunnel can be built; (2) whether it can work for the intended purpose; and (3) the negative potential impact the Tunnel might have downstream.
  • As well the Mayor is concerned about building something of such cost and scope that may never get used.
  • There was discussion around the Winnipeg “Duffs Ditch” as an analogy of saving $32 Billion, with a build-cost to damages-avoided ratio of $1 to $11 (or $14).
  • CRCAG stated its belief that the potential savings of avoiding continuous repeated costs of $6-8 Billion (not including the costs associated with lost productivity, property valuation decline and lost business opportunity), or more depending on the event, easily justifies the capital investment.
  • The Mayor pointed out that the Net Present Value cost savings of a large infrastructure project like the tunnel is difficult to model because the investment would be made today and the infrastructure  may not be required to mitigate flood for many years to come…… if ever required at all. CRCAG stressed that the downtown and all impacted communities will certainly flood again if nothing is done.  Not if, but when. It is now time to finally address this obvious risk.


Unique Considerations to Bowness:


  • The Mayor has some specific questions of his own on the Bow and Bowness that he would like to address and issues that should be resolved.
  • The Mayor wanted to know why the Berm in Bowness has been allowed to slowly be cut down and back over time.
  • He explained that the raw sewage lines running under Bowness are built to corrode and allow ground water to infiltrate the lines to properly flush them out. The main line in Bowness has functioned as planned but now requires upgrading.  It would cost $100 Million to replace the line.
  • A smaller line upgrade is planned to alleviate some of the short term issues in Bowness.
  • The Mayor supports redevelopment in Bowness and the idea of increasing the population.  Some amount of Duplex’s replacing single dwellings would be a good thing for Bowness.  Massive scale developments in Bowness would be a different matter.


Tour of Bowness with Minister Ken Hughes

Rob Nieuwesteeg and Emma May of CRCAG toured Bowness with Minister Ken Hughes, Minister Kyle Fawcett and MLA Alana Delong.
We toured the properties from the east end of Bow Crescent and migrated west and covered Bowbank Cres., Bowater, 33rd and both the east/west end of Bow Cres.
Minister Hughes seemed generally dismayed people’s experience dealing with the DRP. While he acknowledged that people at the end of the process may still not like the result  (read: financial number) he is aiming to improve the overall experience for people in terms of being communicated with. I think he used the term treating Albertans affected like  “customers.”
Working to clear most of the backlog in DRP claims by the end of spring, if not sooner.  The deadline of March 31st  will likely be extended as their remains a huge number of people in limbo in Bowness, and countless many more on the Elbow.
Reiterated that they are in talks with Transalta vis-à-vis managing the Ghost Dam/Reservoir  as well as reviewing engineering studies incorporating other existing infrastructure. Also mentioned the Dry dams and other berming options being considered.
Once they complete the various engineering studies/reports, they will then act on things based on their findings. He mentioned  on few occasions again that they need to maintain the “political will” to follow through on things, even if the process for the new or larger infrastructure pieces is going to take some time (2-5 year timeline).
Indicated that the whole communication piece needs to improve so that if/when the next one comes, they are operating with real data and  properly communicating that to people. When told that Telus (switching station on our street for western Canada 911 centre) had hours notice to sand bag and have flood tubes in place, and homeowners were given 30 min to evacuate, he was not impressed.
Minister Hughes was quick to give people the time to tell their story and gave out his cards freely and encouraged them to get in touch with his office if need be.